Archive for the ‘the Responsiblility of the Media’ Category


Let’s review what’s happened at trial:

It’s undisputed that attorney Greg Clark was shot to death on February 6, 2008. At approximately 1:55 PM, he was outside his house on the corner of Oakforest Dr., and Sentinel Rd, in Rockford, using a snowblower to clear snow from sidewalk adjacent to his driveway. Someone came up to him, shot him three times in the back and left. Attorney Clark was on the ground and dead within minutes of being shot.

There was a lot of procedural testimony from first responders and police detectives about what happened after the shooting; who responded to what event, about their job responsibilities, chain-of-custody testimony, what everyone physically did at the murder scene and what evidence and witness reports detectives collected and who they spoke to. HOW DOES MOST OF THAT TESTIMONY MATTER?

IT DOESN’T! The only part of trial testimony that matters as to whether we have the truth of who killed attorney Greg Clark is the reliability of the State’s evidence which they present and allege that it connects Richard Wanke and Diane Chavez to the Greg Clark’s murder scene and then, ONLY BY IMPLICATION, to some involvement in Greg Clark’s murder. So, let’s look at what this evidence consists of:

FIRST: THE FORENSIC EVIDENCE

The State presented most of their prime physical evidence consisting mostly of clothing collected from attorney Greg Clark and suspect Richard Wanke on 2/6 – 2/7/08, phone logs, the 911 tape, an audio tape recording of 5/7/07, meeting between attorney Clark, Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez, certain oral statements made in court at Richard’s Wanke 2006 burglary case both Clark and Wanke as documented in court transcripts, a photo of Diane Chavez’s ’98 Dodge Caravan, estimates of travel times and routes between Clark’s home and Wanke’s Rockford apartment, part of a gun strap found on the ground at the murder scene, computer address searches, gloves, State driver records, and vehicle search results, the contents of two photo line-ups, and bullet casings .

Forensic experts testified at length about the relevant DNA, fingerprint, gunshot residue, and comparison testing they did on the bullet casings, clothing, gun strap, gloves, and van. The expert testimony is only relevant in showing that the same weapon, a gun, was used in two different attacks on attorney Greg Clark. One occurred on November 7, 2007, and the other on 2/6/08.
The State maintained that although the rest of it’s forensic testing results were negative, that they are also inconclusive That’s trying to put a good spin on it.

Bottom-line

The State found NO incriminating DNA, fingerprint, or gunshot residue on any of the tested items. The only DNA positives it found for Richard Wanke were on items of his own clothing and not those of Greg Clark’s.

SECOND: EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY

There was no eyewitness to attorney Greg Clark’s shooting, so the most important witness testimony concerns the description of any stranger who eyewitnesses saw in the vicinity of the murder scene closest to the time of the murder and the description of any vehicle they drove.

The suspect in the van

Phyllis Clark, attorney Greg Clark’s widow, was the most immediate witness to reach the murder scene. She testified that her husband was outside their house snowblowing for about half an hour before she heard gunshots. She said she went to the window of their house and saw her husband on the ground. She said she saw a man 5’7’’ leave her husband’s side and enter the passenger side of a dark blue van on the street which then headed toward Sentinel Dr.

Various neighbors arriving home in the subdivision reported seeing and driving behind a dark blue van as it entered the subdivision on Sentinel Rd., from the north and headed towards Clark’s house minutes before the shooting. One neighbor passed a dark blue van on the driver’s side when it pulled over to the curb by Clark’s house, and another encountered a dark blue van as it pulled out of the subdivision shortly after the shooting. and turned west onto Rote Rd. Witnesses mostly described the van they saw as being dark blue in color. One said it was blue-green in color. Most said it was a Chrysler product and a Town & Country van. One said it had gold wheels. Each identified the State’s photo of Diane Chavez’s ’98 Dodge Caravan in court as the van they saw on 2/6/08. Several other witnesses described other suspicious and different color and make vehicles they saw in the neighborhood on 2/6/08. No witness saw or recalled the license plate number of the van.

The State photo of Diane Chavez’s ’98 caravan below: the van in this photo only appears to be dark blue because of the type of lighting used by police. There were plenty of dark blue vans in Rockford that looked like this. A few of them are still driving around. No one knows how many dark blue vans there were in total in Rockford in 2008, because the police search of registered vans only searched for 1998 year vans. Nor did they check van registrations from other surrounding cities. And, if you look closely at the hood of van in this picture, you can partly detect the van’s real color.

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The actual color of Diane Chavez’s ’98 van: What difference does a subtle change of color make? EVERYTHING…

If the witnesses all saw a dark-blue van with gold rims on 2/6/08; it wasn’t Diane’s van. It was instead, the normal dark-blue color van which Chrysler has offered as a color for more years. Some of those regular dark-blue older Chrysler Town & Country and Caravan vans are still seen in Rockford today. In 2008, Ford also had a dark-blue Windstar van which can be still be mistaken for either Chrysler or Dodge vans.

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p1020319The photos above are not Diane’s van. We can’t access her van because the police still have it, but these are the normal light photos of a van which is the same model and year as Diane’s: a 1998 Chrysler Caravan. It is a PURPLE, not a BLUE van! And if the eyewitnesses had seen Diane’s van up close and accurately, they would have described purple, not dark-blue. Chrysler offered the paint color Amethyst (Purple) on it’s Dodge Caravans and Chrysler Town & Country vans for several years through 2000. The color is still in use by other car makers today.

The allegations against Diane Chavez.

On this Home page of our website is the above tab, “About Diane Chavez”. We direct you to click on it and review the fallacious evidence the State uses to allege that Diane Chavez was present at Clark’s house on February 5, 2008, the day before the murder and during her lunch hour. The State’s implication is that Diane Chavez somehow assisted Richard Wanke in killing attorney Clark. The State is wrong and that its “evidence” against her is both false and manipulated and makes one question the accuracy of it’s case against Richard Wanke.

Back to the Man

Except for Clark’s wife, the eyewitnesses all saw the man in the van only as he sat behind the wheel of it and drove the van. They uniformly described the driver of the van as an older, white male. Their best estimate was that he was in his 40’s. The police detectives later testified that they were sent looking for a suspect described to them as having “grayish” hair and a “scruffy” beard. At trial, most witnesses seemed to qualify their mention of gray hair to being brownish and pulled back in a pigtail. A couple mentioned eyeglasses and one mentioned large eyeglasses worn by the man. Most said the man seemed to be wearing dark clothing, and one witness was adamant he recognized by the sleeve he saw that the driver wore a black demin jacket like one of the State’s exhibits. Every witness identified Richard in court as being the man they saw driving the van.

There was an unexplained discrepancy in the eyewitness testimony concerning who was in the van. The testimony of Clark’s wife, who saw a man enter a van on the passenger side before it left, and a then 7 year old child who testified that she saw a white man standing by the passenger side of a van by Clark before the shooting. If every witness saw the same dark blue van, then there was possibly more than one person in that van. One witness testified that they followed a van which pulled over to the curb by Clark’s house, which would be the right side curb of Oakforest Dr. At least two other witnesses said they followed a van as it entered the subdivision heading towards Clark’s house. Clark’s wife and the child witness saw the van parked facing the opposite direction: on Oakforest Dr., but pointed towards Sentinel Drive.

Every eyewitness testified that police showed them each six photos of different suspects on 2/6/08, and each witness in turn failed to identify Richard Wanke’s photograph on the day of the murder as the photo of the man they saw driving the van. Mrs. Clark too failed on 2/6/08, to pick Richard Wanke’s photo out as being the man she saw that day leaving the body of her husband. Each of them only days later called by the police to report that Richard Wanke, was the man they saw, after they saw the following several articles and photos published in the Rockford-Register Star on February 9, & 10, 2008.

What did all the eyewitnesses see and read in the Rockford Register-Star before they identified Richard Wanke as the suspect?

The articles the Rockford Register Star published on February 9, and February 10, which named Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez as suspects in the Clark murder investigation even though Richard Wanke had not yet been identified by eyewitnesses as a man in the blue van.

The first article, “Double drama in court” which appeared in print on February 9, 2008, is a front-page triple article in one which continues on the next two pages inside. It shows a photo of Richard Wanke with dark hair and a beard. It identifies both Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez, as police suspects in the Greg Clark murder investigation by saying that both a judge and attorney linked them to it in court. A chronology of Richard Wanke’s 2006 burglary case is at the top of the second page along with an article about the shooting aftermath at the bottom of the page. That second page is almost a full page devoted to information about the murder.

The article “Jailed duo helped each other” appeared the next day on February 10, 2008. Each of these Rockford Register-Star identifications and articles clearly influenced each of the eyewitnesses in this case. On our blog under this Home page tab “Unreliabiltiy of Eyewitness Testimony” is information about how easily and unconsciously eyewitness recollections are influenced by many factors and are often erroneous no matter how certain witnesses feel and testify about what they saw. You should review this information.

Bottom Line:

February 6, 2008, was one of the heaviest snowfalls in Winnebago County. At times it was almost a blizzard outside. Snow was heavy on the ground at the time of the shooting and snow was falling. Most of the eyewitnesses in this case were arriving home because of the weather. They were focused on driving in the snow and keeping their windshields clear of it. They were not that focused on the vehicles around them or the drivers of those vehicles. If they had been and if they each saw the van and the man driving it as clearly and completely as they claim, they would recall at least part, if not all of a license plate, the make and color of the van correctly, or would have agreed on the physical description of the driver, what he was wearing, and whether there was one person or two in the van.The eyewitness testimony in this whole case is unreliable.

THIRD: MOTIVE

The State played an audio micro cassette tape to the jury which allegedly contains the audio of a 25 minute meeting between Attorney Greg Clark, Richard Wanke, and Diane Chavez on 5/7/2008. It may actually be an earlier March 2007 meeting. Much of the tape is inaudible and difficult to distinguish. The Rockford Register-Star printed a small portion of the conversation on it:

“…Wanke wanted Clark to use photos of a minivan owned by Chavez in the burglary case. Clark questioned the significance of someone keying Chavez’s van or using photos of windshield wipers.

“I don’t know. That’s not my job,” said a man investigators identified as Wanke.
“Whose job is it? Whose job is it to determine materiality?” a man believed to be Clark responds. “Is it my job? What percentage is my job and what percentage is your job?…”
RRSTAR article about the audio tape
The State wants us to believe that Richard Wanke and Greg Clark had such an “tumultuous” relationship; that it was antagonistic enough to cause Richard Wanke to kill his attorney. The State claims that statements made by both such as the above and the text of court transcripts from Richard’s 2006, burglary trial for the theft of a laptop computer prove that Richard’s “state of mind’ motivated him to kill attorney Clark. The State exaggerates what hostility took place between attorney Clark and Richard Wanke and wrongly blames Wanke for all of it.
This audio tape exchange, shows Clark not cooperating with Richard Wanke when reviewing evidence that Wanke feels may be used at trial. Clark puts Wankd down when he tries to point out that the light-blue van had obvious physical damage that a State witness failed to note on the van he saw at the burglary scene and which he described to police as being silver in color. Keying, wipers, etc can be relevant when a witness claims it was your van he saw up close but then somehow misses seeing what he should have. Wanke didn’t know if what he had was useful for trial. He was consulting Clark, and Clark treated him poorly and was obviously antagonistic. The full length of the tape contains similar content but no obscenities are exchanged and there is a reconciliation of sorts at the end of it. The tape is not the “smoking gun” the State wants us to believe it is.
The court transcripts of Richard’s burglary case show it was attorney Clark, not Wanke who first complained to the court on March 7, 2007, that the other was not communicating with him. Even then, both Clark on page three says there was no hostility between them and Richard agreed on page six saying, that they were very courteous with each other, and it was just a difference of opinion.
The March 14, 2007 transcript


Wanke merely spoke up in his own defense. Attorney Clark pushed the court to admonish his client. If the court transcripts indicate resentment by either, it wasn’t Richard Wanke, but Clark who later on May 7, 2007, on page 13, told the court that he wasn’t used to being left out of the loop by a client and that he didn’t like it. Page 24 of May 7, 2007, Clark was upset enough with Wanke that he stood back when the judge pushed Richard Wanke to trial.
The May 7, 2007 transcript


Richard Wanke didn’t know at the time what was going on. He didn’t know that Clark had everyone meet the Friday before without him on May 4, 2007. He didn’t know that Clark had confessed that he advised Wanke wrongly about the length of his potential sentence and was requesting a continuance for that reason.

The May 4, 2007 transcript


May 4, 2007, and May 7, 2007, are the only two times in the nearly three year course of Richard’s burglary case where there is  emotion in the court record the State is now trying to use, and it was attorney Clark who was upset, and who reacted poorly, not Richard Wanke. Richard Wanke was out on bond in 2/06/08; something few defendants who lose jury trials are allowed. This was due to the court’s recognition of all the years in which he had complied with all court rules and was civil.
Bottom Line:

Defendants and attorneys regularly disagree about trial strategy and the relevance of evidence. Both sides hash out their arguments in court and in court filings. No revelation about that. Defendants are often held in contempt of court when they speak out of turn or disrespect someone. That did not happen here. There were no public arguments between Greg Clark and Richard Wanke. They were very civil to each other inside and out of court no matter what tension existed. Clark had represented Richard Wanke for six years (not one year as the State maintains) amicably before on another case, and his mistakes created the pretrial tension between them in Wanke’s burglary case. Had anyone of the court; the judge, the attorneys, the bailiff’s etc., seen threats or true anger exchanged between Clark and Richard, the Court would have immediately stepped in to intervene. Attorney Clark would have been removed from Wanke’s case. Richard Wanke would have been held in contempt of court or even criminally charged with misconduct. Violence of any sort is not tolerated in courts and the State has no witnesses who can show that any disagreements between Clark and Wanke exceeded the usual tension generally present in criminal defense. Richard was not a legal novice. He knew well that Clark’s death would not dismiss his case or improve his lot. At best, it would just cause a new attorney unfamiliar with him to do a worse job of advocating for him at sentencing. At worse, he could anticipate receiving the worst sentence possible as a murder suspect.

SUMMATION

The lack of forensic evidence against Richard Wanke, the unreliability and inaccuracy of the eyewitness testimony against him, and the State’s attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill regarding Richard Wanke’s alleged motive to kill Greg Clark does not prove that Richard Wanke killed attorney Greg Clark. Far from it. Stay tuned, and in a couple of days, we will explain to you how the State’s evidence and the murder investigation instead proves that Richard Wanke did not kill Greg Clark! And, we will show the bias on the part of Rockford Police Deputy Chief, Greg Lindmark, who headed this investigation that made Richard Wanke the suspect.

 


ROCKFORD — “It’s breathtaking. Oh my goodness,” a Rockford man said after emerging from the Winnebago County Jail into the sunshine this afternoon after more than 23 years behind bars for a murder he and his supporters maintain he didn’t commit.John Horton Jr., 40, was convicted of the 1993 murder of Arthur Castaneda in Rockford. Horton was 17 years old when Castaneda was fatally shot during a robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant, located at that time at 2715 Charles St. He was sentenced

Source: John Horton of Rockford free after more than 2 decades in prison


By Jeff Kolkey Staff writer

Posted Jun. 24, 2016 at 12:14 PM
Updated Jun 24, 2016 at 5:37 PM

ROCKFORD — Digital scanners tuned to Rockford police channels will fall silent Aug. 1.

Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea is ordering all digital radio communications to be transmitted over only encrypted channels starting in August, preventing members of the public and news organizations from listening to police radio traffic. O’Shea said he is concerned about officer safety and individuals’ privacy rights and worries that open communication tips off criminals to police movements.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department may follow suit next year.”I’m not trying to hide anything,” O’Shea said today. “It’s not about cutting off the media or the public.”

O’Shea said technology had made it easier for criminals to glean information from police radio traffic that can thwart law enforcement, give suspects advanced notice of imminent law enforcement activity and compromise investigations.

The change to encrypted channels involves reprogramming police radios at virtually no cost, O’Shea said.Plans are for the department to continue keeping a police blotter, Facebook page and Twitter feed to disseminate information to the public.

O’Shea said the department plans to establish a dedicated news media hotline and create a 911 call log that journalists and the public can use to monitor criminal and police activity.It has not been determined how often the log will be updated and published. And O’Shea said it will be scrubbed of calls, such as child sex crimes and “certain domestics,” the police department determines are inappropriate to publish.

“With what we are putting in place, I feel very comfortable it won’t decrease our transparency,” O’Shea said.Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association, said the shift to encrypted police communications is becoming more common in the state and in jurisdictions across the country. Police encryption raises the chance that the police department itself becomes the sole source of news and information about crime, he said.

“It’s going to make it very difficult to have immediate knowledge of what’s going on,” Craven said. “I’m not sure if this was designed to keep nosy reporters from knowing what’s going on, or if that’s an aftereffect.”

Source: Rockford to scramble all police radio communication – News – Rockford Register Star – Rockford, IL


By Georgette Braun Staff writer
Posted Mar. 1, 2016 at 8:31 PM Updated at 8:30 AM ROCKFORD —

Public defender Nick Zimmerman asked to withdraw as attorney for Richard E. Wanke Jr., who is charged with murder in the 2008 death of attorney Gregory H. Clark, but Judge Rosemary Collins said today he couldn’t. Collins said Zimmerman’s assertion that there could be a conflict of interest if he were to call a colleague to testify wasn’t at issue. That’s because the colleague’s involvement with Wanke revolved around a separate burglary case against him, Collins said. “There is no conflict,” she said.

Zimmerman is the fourth lawyer for Wanke in the case. Wanke has contended at previous hearings that Winnebago County public defenders could not adequately represent him because of conflicts of interest. Zimmerman continued to defend Wanke in the Winnebago County courtroom today, where he sought to have certain evidence suppressed in the case that will go to trial on May 2.

Clark was fatally shot Feb. 6, 2008, while clearing snow from a sidewalk outside his Rockford home in the 1700 block of Oakforest Drive. Police said a gunman jumped out of a vehicle and shot Clark in the back.

Clark had defended Wanke on a 2006 burglary charge involving a computer, and Wanke was upset with the outcome. That’s what Rockford Police Department officers said Bart Henbest, Clark’s son-in-law and business partner, told them at the time.

Wanke was serving prison time at Stateville Correctional Center and was weeks away from being released when he was charged in 2014 with killing Clark. He has previously said he had nothing to do with Clark’s death.

In Collins’ courtroom, Zimmerman said that Rockford police in 2008 “arrested my client at gunpoint, without a warrant or probable cause.” And he asked that items Wanke had on him when he was detained not be admitted as evidence at trial. Those items included business cards, a driver’s license, keys, a cellphone and a flash drive. The significance of those items in the case was unclear.

Wanke, wearing a lime green Winnebago County Jail jumpsuit, ankle shackles, a ponytail and an audio headset to aid hearing, often leaned closer to Zimmerman and whispered to him as Zimmerman was about to address the court.

Marilyn Hite Ross, chief of the criminal bureau for the Winnebago County state’s attorney office, said there was probable cause for police to detain Wanke. “Probable cause exists when they have articulative facts that led them to believe that a crime had been committed and this defendant committed that crime.”

Sgt. David Lee of the Rockford Police Department testified today that he and other officers were sent to a duplex in the 1100 block of Grant Street to do surveillance within a few hours after Clark was shot. That’s where they saw Wanke shoveling snow. He matched the description witnesses gave of a suspect at the shooting scene: a white male in his 40s or 50s, with glasses and long, straggly hair. A blue minivan with gold rims was parked near Wanke.

Source: Richard Wanke, accused of killing Rockford lawyer Gregory Clark, seeks to suppress evidence – News – Rockford Register Star – Rockford, IL

…AND WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS HEARING & ARTICLE:

First off, background about what an IL “Suppression” hearing is and what it is supposed to accomplish

A motion to suppress evidence is an objection over evidence generally presented to court before trial begins. The motion challenges evidence on constitutional grounds. Generally a motion to suppress is based on:
Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure
Fifth Amendment limitations of self-incrimination
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment safeguards for due process

Generally, the purpose of a suppression hearing is to examine whether or not the police had sufficient probable cause to either arrest, search, or seize persons or property at a specific time.

The US Supreme Court has left probable cause open to interpretation by US courts with such guidance as, …”Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officers’ knowledge and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.” (Brinegar v. U.S.)

A look at the probable cause in a criminal case may be warranted based on the circumstances of the case. In Richard Wanke’s instance, there are indications that the police in February 2008, may have had little more than suspicion that Wanke was involved in Greg Clark’s murder; that is, no forensic evidence or only circumstantial linkages. Richard Wanke was not arrested in 2008, but his bond was revoked and he was jailed. The State is trying to justify the factual basis on why he was imprisoned based on what the police knew at the time they acted against him. If the actions taken in 2008 were not based on sufficient probable cause of his involvement in the murder, then whatever was collected by police in 2008 may not be usable today by the State. Bottom-line, in 2008, the police needed to be able to have reasonably connected Richard Wanke to the murder.

Richard’s case is almost a double situation of probable cause because he was charged with the murder in April 2014, after it went cold in 2010. Cold cases are usually re-opened and charged after the police discover new evidence that links a suspect to the crime. This does not appear to have happened in Richard’s case, so if sufficient probable cause is not found in the actions of 2008, then there may be further issues of legitimacy in his 2014 charges.

Now, will Judge Collins find the police had “probable cause” against Richard Wanke in 2008? She will issue her decision next Monday on March 7, 2016. But, yeah; we anticipate that she will find that the police did have probable cause to act against Richard, and that she will deny defense’s motion to suppress any evidence.

We anticipate this decision based on how she handled and disposed the first motion defense submitted just before the suppression hearing began.

The RRSTAR article above is a garbled account and explanation of what actually took place in the courtroom on March 1, 2016. The RRSTAR reporters have only the limited opportunity while reporting to learn how to interpret courtroom actions and their significance.

Georgette Braun writes: “… Collins said Zimmerman’s assertion that there could be a conflict of interest if he were to call a colleague to testify wasn’t at issue. That’s because the colleague’s involvement with Wanke revolved around a separate burglary case against him, Collins said. “There is no conflict,” she said…”

Well, this is not quite what happened. Derrick Schmidt, one of Richard’s prior Public Defender’s warned Judge Collins during argument over his past motion to withdraw the Public Defender’s office from representing Richard that the issue of conflict-of-interest regarding the Winnebago County’s Public Defender’s office was going to rear it’s ugly head repeatedly through Richard’s case if Judge Collins did not remove the office from the case.

Yesterday, Nick Zimmerman, Richard’s current Public Defender said that he and Robert Simmons, (his co-counsel) were reviewing case materials early Monday morning when they came upon an issue with the way in which Richard’s bond was revoked on February 6, 2008. Basically, Zimmerman maintained that Richard’s bond was illegally revoked because the police and the State agent at the time failed to follow proper procedures when they revoked his bond.

Generally bond is revoked in court. The State presents facts to the judge about why the bond should be revoked; the defense has the opportunity to challenge the reasons, the judge decides if the revocation is merited and then signs an order which is officially recorded in the record by the Circuit Clerks’ office.

None of that happened in Richard’s situation in 2008. On February 6, 2008, a police officer knocked on Judge Truitt’s door at home about 11pm at night; told Judge Truitt god knows what about Richard and the Clark murder; got the judge to sign the revocation order and then the order ended up in the court record much later. Problem is, again, no one knows what information was presented to Judge Truitt to persuade him that Richard was such a danger that his liberty should be revoked, and no one was there on Richard’s behalf to challenge the information presented. It was all done improperly and ex-parte. Plus, at 11pm, the police had already picked up Richard and he was already in their custody, so they had jumped the gun on picking him up.

You see, the police had a choice on February 6, 2008, if they believed that Richard was a danger and needed to be in custody. The police could have gone to a judge earlier that afternoon and obtained an arrest warrant for Richard and then picked him up and arrested him. This is what they do for most people they arrest.  Instead, the police apparently felt that Richard had no legal rights because he was already out on bond, so they could just go and pick him up between 5 – 6 pm.

In February 2008, however, the police did not charge Richard Wanke with the murder of Greg Clark. Instead, they waited till April 2014 to do that. Meantime, in 2008, they held Richard in jail under questionable authority for about 4 months before he was sentenced in his laptop burglary case and sent off to IDOC.

So, Nick Zimmerman maintained to Judge Collins, on March 1, 2016, that the whole issue of how Richard Wanke was seized by the police in 2008, has to be examined because a bond revocation and not an arrest was used to justify holding him and then seizing evidence against him at the time, and he ended up not being charged with anything at the time.

It is a fair issue to consider because without protections, the police can then pick up and detain indefinitely people out on bond without charging them with anything.

Zimmerman’s problem however is that the State agent who acted against Richard on February 6, 2008, is now a public defender of some repute who many people in the Public Defender’s office consult with on a regular basis, including himself. Zimmerman notified Judge Collins that, in order to examine the issue of the bond revocation on Richard’s behalf, he and Simmons had a conflict-of-interest in that they would be divided between their allegiance to Richard and their allegiance to the public defenders office when cross-examining Margie O’Conner; who might also hedge in answering truthfully simply because she was being questioned by colleagues.

Judge Collins, in the morning first heard arguments on both sides; from the defense that the bond revocation was illegal because procedures were not properly followed, and from the State, who claimed that it was legal and justified holding Richard Wanke indefinitely. Collins then adjurned the case upon 1:30 pm for her decision on the issue.

During the noon break, Collins used her time to review first the electronic docket on Richard’s laptop burglary case 06-CF-405. Then she pulled the casefile and reviewed the court transcript for 2/15/08, where a motion by Attorney Brown to reinstate Richard’s bond was heard by Truitt.

Brown complained at that hearing that the State (Margie O’Conner) presented some information as to why Richard’s bond was revoked, but that it was conclusionary information and not the underlying factual basis: for example, that Richard fit the shooter’s description, but the description itself was not presented. Brown complained then that the State was not providing sufficient information for him to be able to sufficiently represent Richard. Also, the procedural manner in which the bond was revoked was not discussed then before Judge Truitt.

Collins also reviewed the 6/11/08 court transcript where attorney Glenn Jazciew refiled the motion for bond and argued that it was due reconsideration since it had been four months since the first motion was argued and Richard’s situation still had not changed in that he still had not been charged. Judge McGraw refused to allow the issue to be reheard at that time.

So, Collins basically, marched back into court yesterday afternoon and said “the bond revocation issue was raised and litigated in 06 CF 405 and we are not going to revisit it. And, because, we don’t need to revisit it, the PD does not need to call Margie O’Conner as witness, so we don’t have a conflict-of-interest situation here. So, lets go on and do the suppression hearing now.

Georgette Braun makes it sound as if Collins found that the issue Zimmerman raised only pertained to Richard’s prior laptop burglary case. It does not, and that is not what Collins said. Collins simply found a way to avoid having to deal with the entire issue and refused to allow it to be considered on March 1, 2016. That it was raised to be considered in an entirely different manner than in 2008, with new facts available to the defense who now knows what it did not know in 2008, that is the flimsy basis of the evidence the police had against Richard in 2008, and how they did not follow procedure is irrelevant to Judge Collins. On March 1, 2016, she is happy to ignore all improprieties that happened in 2008; just to ensure that Richard still remains representing in this murder case by the Public Defender’s office.

So, we hardly find Judge Collins action on March 1, 2016, to be an impartial consideration and ruling on an important issue raised by the defense. She basically heard both sides then went and scouted out support to just toss the issue away. This is hardly the sort of action one hopes for in a judge who is considering the outcome of the remainder of your life.

Judge Collins’s actions and rulings so far in Richard’s case may just be a total waste of all our time and public money.  By continuing to be adamant regarding keeping the public defender’s office on Richard’s case, Judge Collins is setting this case up for the Illinois Appellate Court to just toss the case back to the County several years from now when it ends up reviewing the case. The trouble is that not only does it waste all our time and money, but it means Richard Wanke may be subjected to several years of additional unjustified incarceration while he goes through the process of trial all over again.

How does this appeal to your sense of humanity?

 

 


There is going to be a lot of hype going around since today’s announcement  by the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office of charges against Richard Wanke regarding the 2008 murder of his attorney, Gregory Clark. For the record, we do not believe that any charges are merited in this murder case which has been (and still is as of today) listed as an UNSOLVED MURDER  for several years on the Rockford Police Department website. As we understand it, the murder investigation has been at a stand-still for years with no new evidence being uncovered. The existing evidence in the case to-date has been described to us as chaotic at best  since the murder occurred in an open neighborhood, in the middle of a major Rockford snowstorm,  and resulted in speculation about potential multiple suspects,  contradictory statements and sparse information. As far as we know, no direct evidence connects Richard Wanke, to the murder, and NO NEW EVIDENCE IS BEING ADVANCED EVEN NOW by the SA, as justification for charging him 6 years after this heinous murder.

What we do know is that this particular unsolved murder is has been a thorn in the side of the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office since it happened. It has been a contentious issue raised often by contending candidates in electoral elections for the office. It has been the subject of unsubstantiated public opinions aired in the press by various law enforcement and related individuals. And, from the outset, the investigation and resulting criminal process has been handled, as some would say, as a “rush to judgment” directed against Richard Wanke, who received an arguably the maximiun  prison term possible in another minor infraction as a result. So, the real question we should all be asking ourselves at this point  (instead of assuming) is: Is this justice? Does the evidence really justify the charges, or is this just an attempt by the SA and Rockford to save face with the community and the public by charging the usual suspect?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on January 7, 2013, that the current flue epidemic in IL is one of the worst in the nation:

Illinois flu outbreak is one of worst in the U.S.

The Illinois Department of Corrections is claiming that despite the present severe overcrowding in IL prisons that “…it has seen few flu cases among prison inmates and employees…” Yet, at the same time, it is encouraging visitors with flu symptoms to stay home and reschedule visits…

Flu Outbreak Not Affecting Prisons

Forgive us for being skeptical. Just about two weeks ago, at least 140  inmates at the Stateville Correctional Center came down with Norovirus infections which began on Christmas :

Norovirus Outbreak Hits Illinois Prison

Stateville Prison Laid Low by Flu-Like Virus

Some inmates were quarantined, and others reported moved to Sheridan. With the current prison overcrowding, it seems unlikely that IDOC inmates are not catching the flu. With media being limited in access to IL prisons, the public has to rely upon the IL Department of Public Health to confirm or deny IDOC’s report of well-being. IDOC is required to report all suspected flu cases to IDPA. IDPA publishes a weekly Influenza Survey Report. It’s flu survey report for the week ending January 12, 2013, cites the occurrence of  32 institutional flu outbreaks; almost a doubling of the 18 institutional flu outbreaks it reported for the week previous. Institutions are described by IDPA as consisting of “nursing home, hospital, prison, school, etc.”

We are getting reports of widespread inmate flu illness at Stateville CC, without preventative flu shots. Hopefully the media will contact the IL Department of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to factually confirm what IDOC says, and the public does not later find out that the flu among inmates is widespread and not being prevented.


Every time a criminal does something considered really dumb, their actions are quickly immortalized by national media in feature stories summarizing their actions in the “Most Stupid Criminal” news category. Here, we have three, supposedly career policemen, “detectives, no less”, who it seems put their heads together and decided that they would not only engage in questionable and possibly criminal behavior, but that they could also TRUST an INFORMANT to keep their secrets and act as a partner!

Just how many times is the public told that criminals and informants, in particular, have no honor and are not trustworthy? Cops always ding defendants for acting stupid and making poor judgements, but these guys   stretch credibility! The Schaumburg police force is not that large, and common-sense should tell anyone from the outset that the alleged wrong-doing would involve too many incidents and uncontrollable details to  remain secret for long. It does not even appear that the investigation had to squeeze the informant very hard for him to allegedly spill the beans. And, of course, like the criminal defendants police love to criticize, these detectives appear to have kept plenty in the way of incriminating evidence for investigators to recover as well as making alleged incriminating statements and admissions. At the very least, the reason O’Brien  is alleged to have given for his involvement (“for the thrill of it”) should serve to underscore to the public the power trip some cops given a certain level of power apparently fall prey to.

Of course, there is a difference between these guys and the “criminals”; there will be plenty of people ready to excuse their judgements and publicly defend them as being “good people”. They will also, no doubt get to keep their jobs and public pay-checks pending any prosecutions!

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“…The offices of the Cook County state’s attorney and public defender are looking at cases in which the officers were involved to determine whether any have been compromised. Criminal defense experts said some prosecutions could be tainted because of questions about the officers’ credibility and their unavailability to testify…”

3 Schaumburg cops accused of drug ring

Prosecutors say they stole cash and narcotics, then profited from dope sales

“…They also were caught on video Jan. 12 breaking into a storage shed in Roselle to steal $20,000 in cash and a stash of drugs, Assistant State’s Attorney Audrey Anderson said.

On Wednesday, authorities executed 20 search warrants for the officers’ homes, vehicles, work lockers and other areas of the Schaumburg Police Department. Investigators recovered $20,000 and obtained incriminating statements from each defendant, Anderson said.

“(O’Brien) said he did all this just for the thrill of it,” she said.

Also charged was Nicole Brehm, 44, of Hoffman Estates, who was identified as O’Brien’s mistress. She’s accused of using her home as a “stash house,” where police found six pounds of marijuana…”

$750K Bail Set For Schaumburg Cops Accused Of Stealing From Drug Dealers

“…Audio and video recordings were played in court of the officers discussing plans to steal drugs from a dealer and delivering money to the informant. Prosecutors said the incidents occurred while the officers were in tactical clothing and police department vehicles.

Schaumburg police said in a statement Wednesday the officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the state’s attorney’s office’s investigation. The village has also begun its own investigation…”

Prosecutor: Schaumburg cop said he sold drugs “just for the thrill of it”


Local Attorneys Seem to Have Problems Watching What They Say in Public!

Sitting State’s Attorney, Democrat, Joe Bruscato is facing a challenge this November for his office, from Republican, Glen Weber. Now, up to this debate, we were kinda simpathetic to the election plight of Mr. Weber. See, we’ve watched the press splash the news across the area about Weber’s censureship by the IL Supreme Court stemming from a “…May recommendation from the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission that Weber be censured for making improper statements to juries in four criminal cases that took place in Winnebago County and Jo Daviess County between 1999 and 2003…” The IL Supreme Court upheld the censure from a complaint filed in 2007, and Weber is now one of 18 out of 91,000 IL state attorneys who have been officially censured for various matters. We thought it somewhat coincidental that Weber’s case just happened to be decided by the IL Supreme Court just in the nick of time to place him in a negative light in the eyes of county voters just when he happens to be challenging Bruscato for office. It just put a bad taste in our mouths…

But now, here Weber goes again, just freshly censored and seemingly happy to do the same thing all over again! We don’t know if Weber has had the chance to review any of the evidence in the Greg Clark murder investigation (as a non-party, he should have no access to the sealed court case evidence), but he appears happy enough to publicly state conclusively that “…We all know who killed Greg, and here we are over 3½ years into this man’s term and no charge…”after the IL Supreme Court decision summary  states of Weber’s conduct that Weber previously “…alluded to matters he did not reasonably believe to be true” and made prejudicial statements during trial…” (RRSTAR articles below) Considering that the conviction in one of Weber’s past four cases was overturned by the IL Appellate Court, in part, because it found that Weber’s “improper remarks” deprived the defendant of a “fair trial”, one would think that Weber by now would be considering any remarks he makes concerning any criminal investigation very carefully and making sure they are only factual. Further, if Weber can’t restrain himself and has to select ANY on-going criminal investigation to talk about with any degree of certainty, why the heck would he make himself a target of ridicule and criticism by talking about an investigation which, after four-and-a-half years has been officially labeled as an “unsolved murder” by the Rockford Police Department?????

So, it is official; we are not backing Glen Weber for the office of Winnebago County State’s Attorney. Glen Weber is not the only local attorney to speak ill-advisedly (in our opinion) of the lack of criminal charges being brought against either Richard Wanke, or Diane Chavez, in connection with the 2008 Greg Clark murder. Attorney Bart Henbest also commented publicly in May 2012, (see article below), but, at least, we can understand why he would feel a need for closure on Clark’s death, considering his position as Clark’s relative. Unfortunately, while it seems that many murder victim families believe that such closure is achieved with a conviction, studies show that that is not always often the case, as the loss suffered continues to pervade their future lives as it happens with inmates wrongfully convicted and released after a long imprisonment.

But we cannot excuse or understand Weber’s impetus to publicly make remarks we feel are ignorant, harmful, and inappropriate concerning the Clark murder investigation. We have to wonder how the RRSTAR can send a reporter to cover the debate who fails to confront a candidate with the question of the appropriateness  of his remarks given the current status of an on-going investigation. Sadly, it appears to us that the RRSTAR again does not perform it’s community duty to question substance but merely likes good “sound bites”. It appears to us that Glen Weber is too willing to discard propriety and to disregard anyone else’s reputation in his eagerness to assume the SA’s office. We hope he is taught a lesson come November 2012, if not  sooner.

Joe Bruscato and Glen Weber square off before their own

By Chris Green
Posted Sep 19, 2012 @ 11:25 PM

LOVES PARK — Incumbent Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato and private practice attorney Glen Weber spoke Wednesday night at a forum at the Forest Hills Country Club as if they were delivering closing arguments to a jury as to why each should be elected the county’s top prosecutor come Nov. 6.

“You do have a clear choice in this election for state’s attorney,” Bruscato said, “You can elect a lawyer and prosecutor or you can elect a prosecutor, an administrator, an advocate, a steward, a mentor and a leader.”

Weber said the choice is between “an experienced trial lawyer and someone who has virtually no experience whatsoever trying serious criminal cases in the courtroom.”

The two spoke before members of the Winnebago County Bar Association. More than 50 people were in attendance.
Unlike a traditional debate, the candidates were each allowed 10 minutes to state their case for being state’s attorney, and the final 10 minutes was reserved for a question and answer period.

Bruscato opened the forum and spoke of the many facets of being a state’s attorney.

“Being a state’s attorney is about being an effective administrator.”

He spoke of his success in managing nearly 80 attorneys and staff members.

“When I began this job, our office prosecuted about 57 jury trials a year. Now we do more than 100.”

He also spoke of reducing the jail population by 10 percent in the last three months.

Weber made the death of a colleague the centerpiece of his argument. It’s been 3½ years since Attorney Gregory Clark was murdered, and his killer has yet to be charged.

“We all know who killed Greg, and here we are over 3½ years into this man’s term and no charge. What about the justice for Greg Clark’s family? This is why I talk and talk and talk about my trial experience to everyone who will listen.”

Clark, 60, was shot multiple times in the back on Feb. 6, 2008, as he cleared snow from his property outside his Oak Forest Drive home.

Asked by a member of the audience if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the case, Bruscato said because the case is still active, “I find it inappropriate to comment on the case.”

Bruscato did note he is the first Winnebago County State’s Attorney since 1985 to prosecute a case. “That is a personnel decision that each state’s attorney must face in Winnebago County,” he said. “It’s a hard job and being an administrator as well certainly takes up enough time, but I thought it was important to do both roles.”

Weber stressed his trial experience in trying 123 felony jury trials, 43 of them first-degree murder cases.

He said: “You can call me stubborn, sure. Hardheaded? Certainly. Too aggressive? Maybe. But each and everyone of you know I will give my heart and soul to make sure that killer is brought to justice.”

Chris Green: 815-987-1241; cgreen@rrstar.com@chrisfgreen

Rockford police website to turn spotlight on unsolved murders

By Chris Green
Posted May 06, 2012 @ 06:25 PM

ROCKFORD — A new feature on the Rockford Police Department’s website, Unsolved Murders, is expected to debut this month.

One unsolved homicide between 2007 and 2011 will be featured on the site —rockfordil.gov/police — each month. Lt. Marc Welsh said the department is purposefully not labeling them as cold cases.

“We want to send the message to the families of the murder victims that the murder of their loved ones is never forgotten,” he said. “Putting this information out is our effort to obtain any new tips to help us solve them.”

Administrators are reviewing the content of the site, which is expected to go live in the coming days. The 2008 fatal shooting of prominent local attorney Gregory Clark is slated to be the first featured on the site.

Welsh said: “It’s a high-profile case, and there’s been no new information on it in the past year.”

Two arrested
Shortly before 2 p.m. Feb. 6, 2008, a passenger in a blue minivan sprang forward and opened fire on Clark, who was clearing snow from the sidewalk around his house at Sentinel Road and Oakforest Drive. The gunman got back into the van, which sped off.

Clark, 60, apparently never saw his killer. He was shot several times in the back.

His wife, Phyllis, found him on the sidewalk. He was taken to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 2:20 p.m.

Later that day, police arrested two people, housemates Richard E. Wanke, one of Clark’s clients, and Diane Chavez, with whom Wanke was living at the time.

Prosecutors publicly called both of them “people of interest” in the homicide investigation.

In the days after the shooting, police provided prosecutors eyewitness accounts placing Chavez and Wanke and the blue minivan they shared at the scene of the shooting. However, neither has been charged in connection with Clark’s death.

Obstructing justice
On Aug. 14, 2008, Wanke began serving a 14-year prison sentence for unrelated burglary charges. Clark was Wanke’s attorney of record when he was killed.

Winnebago County court records indicate Wanke wanted his burglary conviction reversed based on ineffective assistance of counsel, among other complaints.

Chavez was charged with obstructing justice for lying to police the day of Clark’s death. Police said Chavez told them that Wanke did not live with her and refused to let officers search the residence when they went there looking for Wanke.

Wanke, 50, is serving his sentence at the Jacksonville Correctional Center. His projected parole date is May 7, 2014.

Case solved
Barton Henbest, Clark’s law partner and son-in-law, believes the gunman responsible for Clark’s death is already behind bars, but not for the murder of Clark. Henbest was surprised to learn the case is slated to be featured on the police website as an unsolved murder.

“It’s a solved case,” he said. “It’s just an unprosecuted one.

“In my opinion, it needs to be prosecuted.”

Henbest said his desire for a prosecution is not just based on his 20-year friendship with Clark and the family’s need for closure.

“I know there are detectives in the Rockford Police Department who have put enough information in front of (the Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office), but they have made the decision not to go forward.”

State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato declined to comment other than to say: “It’s an ongoing investigation. I don’t want to compromise the investigation.”

Anyone with information about Clark’s death is asked to call Rockford police, 815-987-5824, or Crime Stoppers, 815-963-7867.

Reach staff writer Chris Green at cgreen@rrstar.com or 815-987-1241.


The uninformed public gives the testimony of “eyewitnesses” far too much credibility. Do any research on the reliability of eyewitness testimony and you find that not only do people not remember correctly what they think or are certain that they saw, but you learn that all too often studies show that ideas and suggestions made after an incident happens or the desire of an individual to be “helpful” ends up tainting or rewriting peoples memories of events. The final memory that people believe is accurate is fragile and can bear little resemblence to the truth.

People should be a little more self-aware of how fleeting and susceptible their own memories are about events that happen around them and their own interactions with other individuals, and that we should know that our memories often cannot be relied upon. You would think that we would be very cautious in expressing certainty based upon our observations; particularly when the lives and well-being of others are affected by what we claim we saw or know.

Yet humans continue to bear witness to false memories and the consequences upon others, as in the two articles below, is disastrous. Jacques Rivera, served 21 years of an 80-year sentence before the appeals court accepted the recanted testimony of Orlando Lopez, the man who fingered Rivera for murder and who originally testified against him. Even now, Rivera is not free, but remains held without bond in Cook County jail, (a jail no one wants to be held in) waiting for the state to decide if it will still retry him for the 1988 murder. Inmate Jamie Snow, has not been so lucky. Even though his attorneys state that a former police officer who is now an inmate can discredit a prime witness’s claim that he saw Snow leave the scene of a murder, and despite that recantation of the testimony of other witnesses, Snow was still recently denied the chance for a new trial. He is just fighting to get his argument heard without any assurance that his life sentence will be overturned.

New trial for man convicted in ’88 murder after witness recants

Inmate appeals denial of new trial in 1991 killing

IL needs a law which prevents eyewitness testimony to either be used alone or in conjunction with just circumstantial evidence to convict anyone of a crime, particularly serious crimes. The consequences to those wrongfully convicted are too great and the error rate in eyewitness testimony is too high to justify such heavy reliance upon it in those cases. There are too many wrongfully convicted, particularly in IL, and too few resources to help them after they have been screwed. Thank goodness for the efforts of Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions and those individual attorneys who, in these tough times, still care enough to do the hard work and investigation required to prove the innocence of those convicted only by eyewitness testimony or circumstantial evidence.



Inmates from an IL prison load sandbags onto a truck Sunday, May 1, 2011,

 View 200 other photos from Midwest flood prevention efforts here.

 Inmates Help With Flood Relief Efforts

“Our staff, facilities and the inmate work crews have been out on the front lines doing clean up and protecting communities from flood waters,” said acting Illinois Department of Corrections Director S.A. Godinez in a statement issued Monday.
Inmate crews have filled more than 468,000 sandbags and worked 30,000 hours since April 24, according to the Illinois Depart-ment of Corrections. Prisoners traveled from Tamms, Menard and Vienna correctional centers; Du Quoin and Dixon Springs boot camps; and Hardin County Work Camp. They have assisted areas in Alexander, Pulaski, Union, Jackson, Massac, Pope, Hardin, Gallatin and White counties.
Crews also have been helping with storm cleanup and providing laundry service for the Illinois National Guard.”

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Emergency workers, citizens, utility company personnel, and many others have all been working around the clock for weeks in a desperate effort to prevent the massive river flooding which now extends from counties in southern Illinois throughout the Mississippi River basin states down to the Gulf of Mexico. Flooding on this scale is unprecedented, and entire communities are in danger of loss of life and property.

Few are aware that from the very start of this emergency crisis,  many inmates in Illinois state prisons and prisons throughout the affected areas have also been caught up and affected by this crisis. With many state prisons already short-staffed and access to them restricted by flooded roads, many of the prisons in southern Illinois have been placed on extended periods of lockdown restricting inmate movement. Yard hours and outside recreation activities have been suspended for most during this time.

Rather than complaining about this situation and the hardships they are enduring, prison inmates have from the outset stepped forward and volunteered their help to the relief effort by helping directly with sandbagging duties and other relief activities such as clearing debris.  Working outside in dry and wet weather on a daily basis, inmates have been working in two-hour shifts for some times 6 to 8 hours a day, filling sandbags and loading them into truck-after-truck pulling up into prison grounds.

Prison inmates are working without reward on this effort, but many of them have friends and family throughout the region. While they cannot be there to assist their loved ones, state prison inmates have shown their concern by doing what they can to help out everyone affected by the threat of flooding. State prisoners deserve all the recognition they can get for their efforts.

Too many times, prisoners are lambasted in the media and criticize by the public for being uncaring troublemakers.  Public officials often manipulate the public’s perception of inmates in order to whip up public frenzy over “crime”. This was particularly the case during the last election in the state of Illinois, when politicians and the media significantly mischaracterized criminals to such an extent that IL Gov. Pat Quinn was pressured into ending all early release prison programs and suspending the awarding of any additional Meritorious Good Time credits (MGT) to all Illinois state prisoners.  MGT still remains suspended, and while our state politicians have forgotten about their role in creating this mess in the first place, the families of thousands of inmates who would otherwise be now released from prison, remain stuck in hardship as a result.

So, it is only fair to applaud the hard work and dedication shown throughout our state prison facilities by our prison inmates who are laboring almost continuously to help out the state in this great time of need. The public needs to understand that regardless of their individual infractions, prisoners cannot be stereotyped. There are many individuals in state prisons who show responsibility and who are also willing to help out others in need without the incentive of any compensation. The public needs to perceive this and, likewise show some support for prisoners when they in turn need our understanding.

Editor’s Note: You can show appreciation for the work of these inmates in a way that will matter by contacting IL Governor Pat Quinn (here), Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (here) or your state legislator (here) and sending them an email mentioning that IL prison inmates should receive recognition and credit for the help they have provided to the state during this flood crisis.

Last line of defence: Young and old rush to fill sandbags as four MILLION people face record-breaking floods sweeping the Mississippi delta

By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 12:36 AM on 8th May 2011

May 2011 has only just begun, but it’s already shaping up to be a wetter-than-normal one. Southern Illinois rainfall in May is generally 4.82 inches, and the area has already received it’s average for the month. In fact, the first two days of the month topped the monthly average for Southern Illinois. 19 Southern Illinois counties have been declared disaster areas after the recent flooding that, this weekend reaches to threaten the rest of the Mississippi river states. It is estimated that up to 2,000 individuals are effected by the flooding in Illinois alone.

As floodwaters recede, region begins cleanup

The Southern.com, May 7, 2011

Record Mississippi River Flooding Sparks Call for Comprehensive Management

Published on May 7, 2011 – 6:53:43 AM “…After Iowans suffered two 500 year floods in the past 18 years, it is clear that focusing flood protection on stronger levees and flood walls is not enough,” said Susan Heathcote, Water Program Director at Iowa Environmental Council. “Long term development planning along rivers must include moving people and structures out of harm’s way and allowing wetland and floodplain areas to perform their natural function—to absorb and slow the river’s flow during spring floods”…Wetlands filter pollutants, absorb excess rainwater and reduce flooding by acting as a giant sponge. Flooding in 1993 caused an estimated $16 billion in damages. Scientists estimate that returning some lands in the Upper Mississippi River basin to their original form—wetlands—would significantly reduce future flooding..”