The Village of Thornton, Illinois seems to regularly totally disregard the requirements of providing legal forms of Notice before actions. Specifically, of providing Notice of the beginning of some specified official interval before actions of punishment.
I will describe three different incidents that have occurred to me over a number of years, as examples of the situation. It is clear that similar legal errors have been made for many years regarding hundreds of other residents of Thornton, Illinois.
On May 12, 2009, I mowed roughly 90% (actually, 89.8%) of my lawn before an unusual part failed inside the twenty year old Toro lawnmower. So, roughly 10% of the lawn remained unmowed.
One might have thought that any government official that saw 90% of a lawn having been mowed, might have realized that there had been an intention of mowing it all! That was NOT the case, and I was very quickly treated as though I had not even tried to mow anything at all. In a very peculiar way, I was summarily issued a Violation (and not a Warning as their Ordinances required) just seven days later, without any attempt at inquiry as to WHY 90% of the lawn had been mowed and 10% left unmowed. It seems incomprehensible that any government official would have seen that as a DESIRED result!
There were some other bizarre events which also occurred, but specifically, a Joe Torres of the Village of Thornton apparently came to the house on Friday, May 29. He later said that he CHOSE not to knock on the door, where I was sitting only around 12 feet away indoors but was unaware of his presence. He then used Scotch Tape to tape a Warning to the outside of one of the 46 windows of that house. He then used that moment to begin a five-day interval of a Village Ordinance before he could act, in having Village employees mow that small section of lawn exactly five days later and thereby incur a charge on me of $200. As I would not agree to pay that very incorrect and inappropriate fine, I was told very cavalierly by the Village Administrator, that if I did not want to or was not able to pay that amount, the Village would put a Lien against my house! (I have never received any legal Notice of that action or whether it has been done, which is along the same theme of ignoring legal procedures for actions.)
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There is NO legal system in the United States that recognized that merely TAPING a Form to the outside of a house window could possibly act as an Official notification! All other government entities understand that a Certified Letter or equivalent legal notification must be sent in order to qualify as due process.
As it happened, I did not even find that small taped Official Warning for more than two days! But even then, how could any Court have ever known that I had ever seen it at all?
In other words, the $200 that the Village of Thornton imposed on me for their spending probably one minute to mow an area of lawn comparable to the size of my living room, could not be legal.
But based on that "Official Notification" the Village attempted to have my house Condemned and Demolished on three different occasions, late in June, late in August and in mid-September, 2003.
How could an absolutely blank Form, unsigned, represent any sort of Legal notification? Even though that was actually handed to me, which WOULD have been an important part of being due process?
The Village has certainly ensured that I would never again own a dog, even though I love dogs. They passed an Ordinance that provides a $500 fine if any dog is ever seen without a leash. They have certainly imposed that on some residents, and I am sure they would on me if I had a dog. Somehow, I doubt that they follow proper due process in those actions.
You probably noticed that Mr. Torres even INTENTIONALLY violated that requirement on him by INTENTIONALLY not knocking on the door; of improperly FIRST issuing a Violation before issuing a Warning and then LATER Issuing a Warning several days AFTER leaving a Violation on my house window. If he had done that, and verbally told me or handed me the document, THAT would have qualified as legal Notice. By CHOOSING not to do that seems to me to be a total disrespect for the American Legal System and the Constitution! Either that or extreme ignorance of the requirements of his job!
I only later realized that the previous year, while I was living at my house in Indiana 60 miles away, and MY house was securely locked and empty, Village employees HAD already entered and rummaged through my Thornton house! In fact, it included the Mayor's own Secretary who had entered my house! It turned out that she was also a part-time Secretary for the Police Department, and she found a house key that my mother had given the Police around 20 years earlier when she was still alive and living in that house, due to some medical emergencies that she had had. The Mayor's Secretary decided that having access to a key to my house gave her permission to enter it at her choice, while I was living in a different State! Apparently, as long as she did not have to BREAK IN, and she locked the house again when she left, she had total right to do that. She did that at least twice during 2002, both apparently for an extended time. Nothing was stolen and nothing vandalized, but every room in the house was in turmoil from having all of its contents thrown about (and kicked about). I did not know that it was her inside my house until nearly two years later, and primarily due to her having brought a can of Diet Soda with her when she entered my house, on two different times. She apparently did not realize that cans of soda are created and filled and packaged by robots, where no human fingerprints ever got on the cans until the drinker held the can. I bought a fingerprint kit to record those fingerprints, but it took me nearly two years before I finally matched those fingerprints with hers.
Nearly every afternoon, three neighbors came over for us to play horseshoes. Trash day was Tuesday when the garbage cans were put out at the street. On many Tuesday afternoons, the neighbor Herb Eisensee would have a giant smile on his face. He was old and very sedentary and he generally sat on a couch facing a picture window view of the street. When I would ask, he would say that he again saw the Mayor's Secretary going through my garbage can! At first, he was concerned that she was also going through his, but he quickly saw that she ONLY came down the street to go through MY garbage! I realize that there is no law against going through someone else's garbage, but for the Mayor's Secretary to regularly do that is rather weird! She certainly found a lot of boxes from frozen dinners and empty cans of food. It is hard to imagine why an elderly and obese Mayor's Secretary would do that even once, much less very regularly. I never witnessed that behavior, but Herb was an honorable man and would certainly not have lied about such a bizarre thing! And he certainly got a kick out of seeing her doing it, dumpster diving as he would call it!
In any case, this Village has certainly done similar things regarding not following legal requirements in punitive actions, to many other residents. And using reasonable statistical analysis (I was educated as a Research Scientist), it seems certain that the Village of Thornton has collected at least $600,000 improperly during the past seven years, from various residents of the Village. And if those actions were as Legally improper as the actions they have taken regarding me, then a Lawyer should not even have to be good to be able to get a Judge to undo all those charges to the residents.
But in the process, he actually violated many of the Village's own Ordinances. For example, after I had learned that no local lawnmower shop had the unusual part for the 20-year-old Toro lawnmower, I had to order it from the Toro factory. They apparently had to find it in their warehouse, and then they mis-wrote the address I had given them on the shipment. So it took quite a few days before the part arrived and I could again use the mower to mow the remaining 10% of the lawn. But Mr. Torres didn't see any reason to tarry. Or even inquire about why 90% of a lawn was mowed and 10% left unmowed! On May 19th, when that small area of grass was really obvious in the nicely mowed 90% of the lawn, and the grass was then still not particularly tall, he had Scotch taped a VIOLATION CITATION to the outside of the window of my house. Again, he later said that he had seen no reason to go to the trouble to knock on my door! Of course, if he had, he would have learned that I had already ordered the needed part for the mower and would soon mow the small remaining part. But he had erred in TAPING that VIOLATION to my window, as I did not find that one for several days. But since it was a VIOLATION and not a WARNING, I was given no choice at all! That was another error on his part in not complying with Village procedures of issuing a WARNING before any violation was ever issued. I could MAIL IN the fine he imposed with that VIOLATION, or I could BRING IN the money for the fine, or I could waste a day to attend a Court Hearing. What sort of choice did I have? Considering that I was already waiting for the repair part.
The Violation insisted that I go in to the Village Hall to be given a Court Date, which I was required to do before May 29. Since it was several days after he taped the Violation to the window before I even found it, that was another example of where I was not given the proper amount of time for due process. What if his tape had come loose in rain and the Violation had fallen behind some bushes there? I would never have even SEEN it, but still been in what he called "total violation". In any case, I went out of my way to make a trip to the Village Hall to obtain the Court Date. When I got there, I was required to wait around ten minutes, and, of course, the person who finally came out was the very same Joe Torres! He immediately told me that he would NOT give me the Court Date (which was clearly indicated on the Violation that I had received). That was the first time I had actually seen him, and the first of several times when he called me 'Johnson' (Most people called me Pastor Johnson or Mister Johnson or Father, and not the rather insulting 'Johnson').
It was also when he told me that he did not FEEL like knocking on my door, because he did not want to hear any excuses I might give!
That was immensely disrespectful.
He also announced to me that he would not provide a Court Date until that following Friday when I was in "full Violation".
Given that I am a Christian Pastor and someone who has NEVER been in ANY "violation" in my entire 63 years of life (except for a very few parking tickets and minor moving violations in my youth), I did not WANT to be in "full violation", even though I had no idea what that meant.
However, I went to the trouble of again making a trip to the Village Hall on that day, and he did not even bother to come out of his office to talk to me, merely having a Secretary tell me that he would not give me the Court Date until a later date.
There are a LOT of violations of their own Village Ordinances that HE broke in that series of events! But he clearly had come to realize that I was not going to simply roll over and die and concede to his taping of the Violation on my window! And THAT apparently inspired him to THEN tape the WARNING Notice on my window on that Friday, May 29.
Apparently, he had decided that he could now simply ignore the fact that he had ALREADY issued the VIOLATION on me ten days earlier! And so he apparently decided that he could now issue a WARNING that a VIOLATION would later occur.
But once you have already been charged, convicted and sentenced to a Fine (on the 19th), and never told that that Violation should be totally ignored, how could ANYONE now take seriously a WARNING on the exact same matter? Didn't the VIOLATION already close the matter? So, EVEN IF I would have found the WARNING taped to the window of my house, how and why would I ever believe that it had any meaning?
The fact that he did those two BACKWARDS was yet another legal failure on his part!
It turned out that the Village Trustees had a Board Meeting scheduled for the following Monday evening, 6/1/09, and a Trustee invited me to attend and then speak about this situation.
So I made yet another trip to the Village Hall, and was given an opportunity to describe this bizarre matter to the Trustees. When I had my opportunity to speak, I described the lawnmower matter but I mostly asked them about the concept of "civil servants" and related matters. They certainly seemed to be in total agreement with my case. I don't know what they did afterward, but clearly someone must have talked to Mr. Torres regarding how Residents of Thornton are to be treated, as I had noted to them that we Residents pay the Taxes that pay the wages of Mr. Torres and everyone else in the Village government.
Mr. Torres clearly did not appreciate getting a lecture, and he clearly decided to take it out on me. For several consecutive days, it rained, and that very small area of grass had gotten pretty tall by then and it was sopping wet. Even though I knew that the area that had to be mowed was small, my small and old push mower was clearly going to have a hard time in mowing it because of how wet the grass was.
So it was almost humorous when Mr. Torres actually came to my door and knocked, late in the afternoon of Wednesday, 6/3/09. He came to finally comply with giving me the Court Date which he had failed to do those many times before. But with a big smile, he ORDERED me to mow the grass BY 7 AM THE NEXT MORNING (6/4)! (that was only around 15 hours later, with most of those hours being night!) As he was leaving, it dawned on me that 7 am was a really strange demand deadline, but I realized that he had set up a situation that he knew it was impossible for me to comply with. He was making sure that I would not be allowed to mow any on that next morning, as I later learned that Thornton has a noise ordinance that does not allow any loud noises like a mower before, you guessed it, 7 am! So his demand so late in the afternoon the day before was his attempt to make it as impossible as he could for me to comply with that demand.
And he even had another parting shot! When I realized that I would be unlikely to get the area mowed before dark (just a few hours away), I asked him what the Noise Ordinances were in Thornton. His response was about as I should have expected of him. He said that I would find out when the Police Officers that he would have watching me arrested me for noise!
Rather than actually answering a reasonable question, he made clear that he was simply trying to find yet another reason to now have me arrested!
There was a young Village employee with him during that conversation, and I turned to him and asked him to remember the conversation. Mr. Torres nearly ordered him not to, telling him and me that HE ALWAYS REMEMBERS WHAT HE SAYS.
I then spent the next FOUR HOURS (until dark) trying to mow that tall wet grass. The mower would go about 15 feet before it would stall and I had to turn it over to remove the sopping wet grass before trying again. But I DID manage to mow MOST of the remaining grass. As it got dark on the evening of 6/3/09, there was between 3% and 4% of the lawn that had still not gotten mowed, roughly the same size area as my living room floor. I had an important Church Meeting to attend on the morning of 6/4, but when I got back from that Meeting, the living-room-floor-sized area of tall grass had been mowed. I would have done it that afternoon. But Mr. Torres managed to find a way to cost me $200 instead.
The sensation of being bullied was nearly constantly true during that entire series of events. And where I had hoped that the Village Trustees might find something wrong in the abusive and disrespectful behaviors and words of Mr. Torres, that did not appear to occur. As I understand it, Mr. Torres still has total authority and unlimited control of the Village.
So what was the sum total of all this harassment? The Village apparently sent someone to spend maybe a minute to mow a really tiny area of remaining grass, which gave Mr. Torres the excuse to send me an Invoice for $200 for that work!
And when I called the Village Administrator to note that Mr. Torres had not only not stopped harassing me but now charged me $200, the Administrator took Mr. Torres' side! He said that I "had the responsibility to mow my lawn" and the fact that I had not mowed all of it meant I was in Violation! All that told me was that they all stick together!
I suspect that these other cases are probably all rather simple like mine have been. If the Residents did NOT receive a Legally Valid (such as by Certified Letter) Notice of Warning or of Violation, shouldn't all of those fees be improper and returned to the Residents? Could this possibly be treated as a Class Action matter against the Village?
The Village of Thornton is not limited to such mundane matters! In early September 2002, the Thornton Police (apparently three Officers were involved) went to the Wolcott Elementary School and took three children out of School. This incident was apparently seen by all students and all Teachers, and was apparently the talk of the town for weeks afterward. WHY did the Police take those kids so publicly away in the middle of a school day? To take them to a nearby town where they INTERROGATED the children about ME! But the worst part was that the Police MADE UP HORRIFIC LIES ABOUT ME to tell the children! I only learned about any of this three years later (in May 2005) that the Police had told the 12-year-old boy that they had "absolute proof that I had molested many little boys before!" The Officers were obviously trying to inspire the young boy to say something incriminating against me. But the Police were certainly totally unaware of my attitudes about such things, and had obviously not known that I had even given Sermons that discussed how disgusted I am with BOTH homosexuals AND child molesters. Yet, the lie they made up to tell that young boy involved BOTH claims against me. And they totally destroyed my lifelong reputation as a good person and my career as a Minister, as they made sure that all Residents of Thornton quickly knew of those horrific allegations against me. Since no Officer had ever even TALKED to me, I had absolutely no reason to believe that any of this craziness even had occurred. Except for the fact that no one smiled at me any more or said hello or ever talked to me, and that strong young men made it implicitly clear that I was NOT to walk on the public sidewalk past their houses!
I am not sure that I had ever included the following in a Sermon, but I certainly said it to many different groups of people over the years, and especially since 9/11/01. I actually see impressive effect if this could be done, but in America, it certainly never could be. But imagine if ONE such convicted (repeat, to make sure) child molester was taken to Times Square in New York City, and placed on a platform in a blocked off 42nd Street. And then a man with a machete would "instantly remove the offending part". (Medical doctors would be present to keep him from dying.) It would certainly keep THAT molester from ever hurting any other kids, but my idea was regarding anyone ELSE who might be considering molesting some child. Doesn't it seem that such a PUBLIC SPECTACLE of such an "instant operation" would be a wonderful DETERRANT to MILLIONS of other men who are destined to do the same sorts of things to other little kids? Doesn't it seem that MILLIONS of little kids would be tremendously SAFER just because You-tube and Facebook and cable TV would forever re-run the video of the Times Square spectacle? But, as I note, in America, the people who do such crimes KNOW that the only "punishment" they will ever receive will be three good meals every day and a roof over their head, until someday they will be released to do it all again, to some other children.
If the Thornton Police had realized how intense my feelings are regarding these subjects, they would have realized how stupid it was for them to have made up that specific lie to tell the children about me!
But, they apparently had a bigger plan. Since their arrival at the Public School to take the three kids away was the center of all conversations, the Village and Police Department chose to print up a lot of copies of the Transcript of the Police Interrogation of those children, which got seen quickly by everyone in the Village (except me). Imagine being handed a sheet that had the Thornton Police Letterhead, and included statements where an Officer had stated that they had absolute proof that I had done horrific things to many little boys in the past. Would YOU believe such a document? Probably you would. Even those kids, three years later when they had built up enough confidence to again talk to me, immediately insisted to me that "the Police never lie." It actually became an absolutely universal attitude in the Village that I am the most evil person on Earth! Even last Saturday (SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE POLICE LIES) there were five different apples that landed right near where I was standing. This is where there are NO apple trees within a couple blocks of my house! I have just come to accept that people (and therefore kids) in Thornton will forever throw apples, tomatoes and rocks at me, several hundred so far in these seven years.
Both (some of) the Thornton Police Department employees and (some of the) Thornton Village employees have chosen to constantly and consistently repeat those same lies for the past seven years. One has to give them credit for persistence, in still working at destroying my reputation, my career and my life, even seven years later! When I told a friend who happens to be an FBI Agent about this matter and the Police lies, she called the Thornton Police Chief (Arnold) to ask him about it. He apparently found the records to document that his Officers really did lie to destroy my reputation and career. Even though just two months earlier, Chief Arnold had made a public statement that he had been Chief for ten years and intended to grow old and die as Chief of Police of Thornton, only a WEEK after my FBI friend had asked him about the Police lies, he turned in his Resignation and left to become UNEMPLOYED! He electively and suddenly chose to end his successful career as Police Chief! He somehow listed and sold his house in a week, and disappeared to parts unknown. Pretty strange behavior for a Chief who had recently announced that he intended to grow old and die as Thornton Police Chief! I have my own ideas of what might have caused him to so suddenly change his life. As I understand it, a Chief is responsible for the behavior of all of his Officers. And he clearly realized what his Officers had done to destroy me and my life. Having been called by an FBI Agent was likely quite impressive to him.
In any case, the home page of this Domain has a link to a pair of very long narratives of the hundreds of different harassments done to me by the Village of Thornton, during the period from 2002 through current (2009).
So, relatively speaking, cheating me out of $200 through some creative but illegal forms of harassment over a very small portion of a lawn is irrelevant. But I guess that even as a Pastor, I might smile if some Lawyer causes the Village to have to return $600,000 to people that it improperly took it from. A Minister is not supposed to get pleasure out of such things, and I guess I would be disappointed in myself if I do smile. But it would be nice to have the chance to find out if I would or not!
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C Johnson, Pastor,
A Christ Walk Church