Amazing Bad Behavior of the Village of Thornton, Illinois, Part 3

First, you need to know that I am a quiet and pleasant Pastor of a small Christian Church (beginning in 1996) (A Christ Walk Church), and that I have NEVER been in any trouble or caused any trouble in my entire life. I believe I received around two parking tickets and maybe three or four slight speeding tickets in my entire life of driving, which has represented the sum total of all the trouble I have ever been in in 60 years of life. To give an idea of my life and attitudes, a couple weeks before High School graduation, I borrowed a quarter from another kid named Art LaTour, and his family moved away immediately after graduation, so I was never able to pay him back! It still bothers me 45 years later! This presentation will make the most sense if you first read the Part 1 and Part 2 of this long ordeal.

This particular discussion includes some incredible incompetence of a Joe Torres in the Village government of Thornton, Illinois, which certainly should result in the Village of Thornton having to pay out at least half a million dollars and probably more! And NOT to me! A good Lawyer should be able to look through years of records of Violations and Fines which Thornton imposed on (many?) Residents over previous years, which a Judge will certainly find to have violated Thornton's own Ordinances regarding PREVIOUSLY PROVIDING a WARNING prior to any imposition of a Violation or of imposing a Fine.

This all is about something that SHOULD BE so unimportant that it should have been a total non-issue! But Thornton seems able to create true disasters from nearly molehills!

First, late in June 2007, WITHOUT ANY PRIOR NOTICE OR WARNING, the Village of Thornton sent a pickup truck and a two-man Work Crew to my driveway, in mid-afternoon, which I initially did not actually even notice. They decided to TAKE my (standard) push lawnmower up into their truck to take it away, when it had been in a location that virtually no one could even have seen, behind my Chevy Van between my driveway and a chain link fence, on a half-block long, unpaved gravel dead-end Maria street. They also decided to try to haul away a heavy piece of equipment of mine, called a 5-ton Jib Hoist Boom, which was absolutely against the chain link fence, again, behind the Van. It was a certainty that NO ONE had ever even NOTICED the Jib Hoist Boom against that fence, as there was NO ONE who had even walked down the dead-end street in at least 15 years that I am aware of. There was a single exception, the part-time Secretary of the Mayor, a Karen Leoni, who would get INTO my Van four times every year (17 times that I was aware of, over four years), and go through the collected papers in the overhead storage compartment, always just a few days after my vehicle Indiana Insurance was renewed (her behaviors were all in Illinois, and I never understood HOW a Village employee even had the permission or authority to enter and rummage through MY van, which was not even Licensed in Illinois but in Indiana). She certainly focused a lot of attention on me over about eight years and she constantly tried to get me arrested for a wide assortment of things, and apparently, the idea of driving my vehicle in their Village without active (Indiana) Insurance must have been one of them! I didn't realize that it was legal for her to enter my vehicle and ransack through my papers, always leaving them thrown on the floor of the van afterward, but this is Thornton, Illinois, and apparently different rules apply here!

Oh, how did I know that she did that at least 17 times? Because of her ego! I generally had a house window a little open near my work computer at nearly all times. It happens that the prevailing wind is from the west and north. I NEVER talked to her in my life (as far as I know) but it was very clear that she insisted on wearing an enormous amount of perfume! Each time she would walk down the dead-end sidewalk next to my house, the prevailing wind usually carried that intense smell of perfume in through my window, so if I was not doing anything of urgent importance, I could go to the window and SEE her walking to the van (always the driver's door, that I saw), get in and start rummaging through my (private?) papers inside the van. In an amusing detail, she seemed to take immense care in never stepping off the PUBLIC sidewalk during those trips. Amusing, since this is the very same woman Secretary to the Mayor who had ENTERED MY HOUSE, at least twice during 2002, and done extensive rummaging there (which IS trespassing, in any other Village!) (proved by her fingerprints inside my totally locked house!) But I had been told by someone else that she was somehow RELATED to the Mayor, and that there was no possible way that any complaints against her would have any effect! In contrast, late in 2003, a Village Trustee (Volek) mentioned to me that she had filed FORTY-TWO OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS against me during a six month period in 2003! I never heard about any of them, or received any Official notification, but apparently I was a regular subject during Village Board Meetings! (I DID hear about three of them during 2003, rather indirectly, all three of which were her efforts to have the (part-time) Building Commissioner [her friend and co-worker] have my house Condemned and then Demolished).

The smell of her perfume being blown in through my window was always very distinctive since NO OTHER PERSON (except me) ever walked down that section of dead-end sidewalk in at least ten years, with the exceptions of the men who used to come to play horseshoes in my yard and the children and grandchildren they sometimes had with them. Whether or not the mail-lady wears perfume, her path to the mailbox does NOT include most of the sidewalk. This all made it unique each time that the Mayor's Secretary Leoni would walk down that sidewalk to climb into my van to rummage through the papers there.

My Jib Hoist Boom weighed over 800 pounds, and the two Village employees could not lift it up into their pickup truck, and it was at least 17 feet long so it would not have fit anyway! So they tied a chain to it and used their truck trailer hitch to DRAG the Jib Hoist Boom away.

Unfortunately, they damaged my Van's left front suspension, wheel and tire in that process, as the Jib Hoist Boom was too long to get past the Van without hitting it. The Jib Hoist Boom also had a thick 16" square steel base plate as part of it, so as they dragged it across my driveway and then the lawn, they created a 6 to 8 inch deep v-shaped gouge all the way across my yard! THIS was the point when I heard the noise and looked out the window to see them dragging my possessions away!

At NO point did the Village or the men in that two-man Crew previously provide any Notice that they were going to take my possessions away, and the workers never even knocked on my door to inform me of that fact. They simply took them! I never received any (legal) written Notice that there was any Violation, or even the (required) WARNING prior to any such Violation, so I had never had ANY warning whatever that THE VILLAGE WAS ABOUT TO TAKE AWAY MY POSSESSIONS (a 5-ton Jib Crane now costs around $4,500 and the lawnmower they hauled away cost me about $200 to replace).

I now no longer had a usable lawnmower to mow the large (1/3 acre) lawn, and the Village started issuing me Warnings regarding keeping the lawn mowed. How did they expect me to mow the lawn when THEY took the mower away?

Oh, now I still have HALF of my $4,500 Jib Hoist (which is still inside my garage.) But HALF of my $4,500 Jib Hoist is worth NOTHING! Until and unless Thorton returns my Jib Hoist Boom, I am out $4,500, which I REALLY could use!

I also wondered if the Village would take away any other lawnmower that I might buy, but eventually I had to buy a used TORO mower. In a peculiar sense of paranoia, I made sure to HIDE that Toro mower in an area behind the house! I later learned that the Toro mower was manufactured in 1989, meaning it was 20 years old in 2009.

It starts getting interesting here!

On May 12, 2009, I mowed what turned out to be 89.8% of the lawn before an unusual part inside the TORO failed. No local mower shop had such an unusual part for a 20-year-old mower, and I eventually had to contact the manufacturer, TORO, to get the part.

Note that only TEN PERCENT of the lawn was then not yet mowed.

It turned out that TORO somehow messed up the street address, and they initially sent the part to somewhere else, and it took a number of days before they straightened that out and got the part to me, where I could then repair the mower and finish the mowing.

But that was not possible! On May 19, 2009, a Joe Torres of the Thornton Village government apparently came to my house and did NOT issue a Warning (as he was required to do) but instead, clearly decided to impress me with his unlimited power in immediately issuing a Violation Citation. Now, did he put his small note in the mailbox or attach it to the door, where I might have found it? No! He decided to TAPE IT TO one of the 46 windows of the house! I only noticed it two days later!

The Citation already convicted me of his Violation, and it described THREE choices I had available: I could MAIL the $50 fine in; I could BRING the $50 fine in, or I could GO TO THE VILLAGE HALL and request a Court Hearing date. It seemed to me that this was a Hobson's Choice, where there was no actual choice available at all! Since I was ALREADY effectively convicted and expected to give them $50, it seemed obvious that I should Request the Court Date, to see if a Judge would agree that a 90% mowed lawn, while I was waiting for a repair part, would convict me of that $50 fine. So I spent some time in getting ready and then walked to the Village Hall.

I asked the Village Secretary for the Court Date, and she required me to wait several minutes until the very same Joe Torres appeared in the hallway. This was the FIRST TIME I had ever even seen that man. He ANNOUNCED to me that he would NOT provide the Court Date (as their own Violation clearly required him to do). I started to ask WHY he saw the 90% mowed lawn and did not even consider the fact that I OBVIOUSLY INTENDED to finish the remaining 10% of mowing, and I started to ask WHY he did not even knock on the door. He interrupted me and informed me that he DECIDED to not knock on the door! Then he turned away and walked back into his Office, leaving me standing there!

So Mr. Torres saw a 90% mowed lawn, and INTENTIONALLY had chosen NOT to knock on the door, while I was sitting inside around 12 feet away! And since he (silently) taped his Violation to my house window, I was not even aware of it for two days! (THIS is IMPORTANT!)

Note that Mr. Torres also FAILED to fulfill his legal responsibility to provide me with the Court Date, as specified on that Violation document (on 5/21/09). He then added another cheap shot in informing me that he WOULD provide the Court Date on 5/29/09, AFTER the Violation Citation identified that I would then be in FULL VIOLATION.

For reasons that only Mr. Torres could know, he also had walked entirely across my yard to get my Van's (Indiana) vehicle license plate number and other information about the Van. WHAT in the world did information about my VEHICLE have to do with a complaint about the height of the grass in the yard?

Apparently, on May 29, Mr. Torres realized that he was NOT supposed to issue the Violation Citation, without FIRST issuing a Warning notice. And so Mr. Torres apparently again came to my house, and again chose to NOT knock on the door, and again TAPED this new WARNING Notice to a house window! This is VERY IMPORTANT!

Now, how in the world is anyone supposed to realize that the FIRST document received, the VIOLATION, was supposedly no longer to be concerned and only the LATER, WARNING document was valid? No one possibly would! But Mr. Torres now decided that his NEW, WARNING was centrally active and important! At the time, I saw it as irrelevant, since I had ALREADY received the Violation Citation which found me guilty, of what THIS Warning is now simply warning me about???

Mr. Torres carefully calculated that FIVE DAYS AFTER that date when he had taped the WARNING to my window was June 4.

I had no way of knowing that, and a Village Trustee (Volek) later suggested that I appear in the public portion of their Village Board Meeting on June 1. I did, and very respectfully expressed my concerns regarding the clear fact that I (and probably other Village Citizens) was NOT treated with respect, and indeed, not at all like a Civil Servant should have talked and behaved. The Trustees seemed to find value in my comments.

So, late in the day on June 3, clearly after receiving a "lecture" regarding treating Village Residents with respect, Mr. Torres showed up again and this time ACTUALLY KNOCKED on my door. THAT DOOR of my house had never been opened in the previous ten years, as I had only ever used the OTHER door, adjacent to my kitchen, but I opened the front door and saw that Mr. Torres was standing there with a young Thornton employee. Torres had an extremely nasty look on his face, and clearly he had a seriously irritated demeanor. A bizarre communication then occurred. I introduced myself as Pastor Carl and Torres immediately said, "No you're not!" THAT took me by surprise, as no one in my thirteen years of being a Christian Minister had anyone challenged my occupation! Mr. Torres 'ANNOUNCED' to me that I was NOT any 'Minister'! Mr. Torres NEVER referred to me by any 'respectful' way, such as 'Father' or 'Reverend' or 'Sir' or 'Pastor', but instead ALWAYS called me 'Johnson'. Not even MISTER Johnson, but just the very disrespectful 'Johnson' (around half a dozen times). He seemed to insist on making sure that I KNEW that HE was in charge! He did NOT seem to understand that 'I' pay more than $3,000 in Property Taxes every year, TO THORNTON, and so it seemed to me that HE should have recognized that HE WAS A PUBLIC SERVANT, to ME, and it was amazingly disrespectful for him to talk and act as he was doing. But he continued. He constantly was looking for any possible way to cause me additional trouble. He noticed that my relatively old house had an excellent very new roof and so he asked what company I had hired to install it (clearly intending to cite me for not having filed the necessary paperwork) but I answered that I had installed the new roof. His comment probably should have been expected, where he immediately said "No you didn't." He had walked across my yard to my rather old 1989 van, which was Licensed in Indiana by our Church, 65 miles away in a different State, but he apparently was not smart enough to think of any way to really threaten me about the van. When he asked what Church I 'allegedly' claimed to be part of, he DID announce that "I will take care of that." That seemed to be some insult to our Church and some threat to try to get our Church (in a DIFFERENT State) 'thrown out of business!'

The conversation was actually rather brief, nearly entirely being him insulting and threatening me. This was all from a 'Public Servant' who I WAS PAYING TAX MONEY TO PAY! I asked the young man who had stood there listening to REMEMBER THIS CONVERSATION, but I suspected that the very young man was probably intimidated by Torres and he probably feared for his job if he would ever 'remember' any of the amazing insults and threats that he heard Torres say to me. Torres added a few other insults and threats which had absolutely nothing to do with mowing a very small remaining unmowed area of the lawn. Torres handed me an envelope which he said included the Court Date which I had insisted on obtaining at the Village Board Meeting. (however, the envelope did NOT include any such Court Date!) Noting that this encounter occurred rather late in the afternoon, then Torres got a big smile, and informed me that the envelope also contained a DEMAND that the remaining (10% of the) lawn be mowed by 7 am the next morning! That was only 15 hours after he had handed me that envelope, and most of those hours were during the night!

As he was smugly walking away, it occurred to me that since it had rained every day for several previous days, and the 10% of unmowed grass was then extremely tall, and I am an Elderly man, there was serious doubt whether I would be able to mow that by his 15-hour-later demand of 7 am. So I (politely) asked what the Village Noise Ordinances were, because it was clear that I might need to come close to violating them. Mr. Torres INTENTIONALLY CHOSE NOT TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION! Instead, he told me that he would have TWO Police Cars monitoring me and that I would find out what the Village Noise Ordinances were when he had the Village Police arrest me for that noise violation!

Again, I was not even given what the rules were, but Torres seemed to love to make threats to me where I was given an absolute DEMAND to comply!

Well, I made an extremely valiant effort at doing that mowing, and I spent most of the remaining four and a half hours of daylight that evening trying to mow it. Because of how tall and soaking wet the grass was, and because of now Elderly I was, I could mow about a twenty-foot strip before the mower clogged up and stopped. I then had to turn the mower over and clean out the wet grass and take it away, before doing it all again.

Since Mr. Torres had intentionally NOT told me what the Noise Ordinances were, and he made clear that he intended to have Police watching me, I felt that I had better stop trying to mow just before 8 pm, as it got dark.

I had gotten MOST of the remaining grass mowed, but there was a remaining area that was very small, relatively comparable to the size of my house living room!

And the peculiar time of Torres' 7 am deadline seemed obvious to make sure that I would have been arrested for Noise Violations if I had tried to finish the mowing in the morning.

As it turned out, I had a pre-secheduled meeting regarding some Church business on the next morning (Thursday, 6/4) so I was away for most of the day. But when I returned, that small area of lawn was mowed!

Assuming that they had brought their industrial scale mower to do it, it could not have taken more than one or two minutes to mow that tiny area! I was later sent an Invoice for $210.00 for that!

And THIS is the truly stupid action on the part of Mr. Torres. The action that seems nearly certain to potentially cost the Village of Thornton at least half a million dollars in Civil Rights Lawsuits and probably more!


Because of Torres' gross incompetence? ANYONE knows that when a LEGAL DOCUMENT is given to anyone, especially one which REQUIRES compliance with a specific time deadline, there are only TWO methods by which that may be done. Either the notice (in this case, the Warning of 6/29/09) had to be SENT BY CERTIFIED MAIL (to ensure that the Recipient had to SIGN for it) or the notice had to be HAND DELIVERED, again getting a SIGNED RECEIPT to confirm that the person LEGALLY received it!

Instead, Mr. Torres TAPED his small Warning to a minor house window (one of 46 windows of the house) where I was not even aware of it for two days!

He apparently had decided that his FIVE DAY INTERVAL TIMER began when he taped the Warning to that window! He was (legally) WRONG!

In fact, I had already prepared two questions for a Court Judge regarding this behavior. I would first ask the Judge if HE carefully examined all the windows of HIS OWN house every day, in case they might have important LEGAL DOCUMENTS taped to them! And then I would ask the Judge why such behavior should be limited to taping the document to a window, but rather, why not allow Mr. Torres to place his Warning notice UNDER A ROCK on my property! In NEITHER case, can it be LEGALLY assumed that the Warning had been received and read!

In other words, there is NO CHANCE that the exact five day interval that Mr. Torres had calculated out from when he had TAPED the Warning to my house window could have been valid!

Why this should cost Thornton many hundreds of thousands of dollars

Some aggressive young Lawyer may see that and realize that EVERY previous Thornton Village Fine, against EVERY Resident, was probably also in clear violation of "proper legal notice" such that the timeclock could begin to tick!

Since Lawyers know that they can usually collect 1/3 of all money collected due to a Contingency Suit, such a Lawyer would certainly contact EVERY PERSON who had ever had to pay such a Fine in Thornton! He would KNOW that a Judge would certainly THROW OUT all those previous Fines and convictions, because Mr. Torres had FAILED to follow proper procedures regarding giving Proper Legal Notice!

How many Fines could that apply to? I have no idea. But it might not just be about grass height violations, but the Village's $500 fine for permitting any dog to be without a leash, or dozens of other Village Ordinances. IF their official procedures REQUIRED that a Warning must first be issued, some specific number of days before an actual Violation and Fine were applied, and IF Mr. Torres was always as incompetent regarding following proper procedures, then it seems to me that ALL those previously Fined people might be ordered (by a Judge) to get their money back AND to have their convictions dismissed as well!

Again, a really aggressive young Lawyer might find YEARS of such poor behaviors on the part of Mr. Torres or others in the Thornton Village government or Police, and that Lawyer might easily get a quick $200,000 out of $600,000 that he could find in old records! The Residents would then only receive $400,000 after the Lawyer's cut, but they would certainly enjoy that money, as well as also having their official Convictions dismissed!

How could Thornton possibly avoid having to give back really enormous amounts of money for hundreds of previous Fines that had violated proper procedures? I see this where Mr. Torres has PERSONALLY caused it so that the Village of Thornton will have to give up very large amounts of its money!

And this might not have even ever been noticed, and might not have come to the attention of any Lawyer for a long time, EXCEPT for the gross incompetence that Mr. Torres had shown regarding his desire to insult and intimidate and threaten and harass me! Is there an element of justice somewhere in that? I find it quite interesting!

Mr. Torres Announced to me that he made sure that the Village of Thornton would put a permanent Legal Lien aqgainst my house for the $210 that he decided I was somehow liable for! I have no way to know if my property now has such a Lien Filed against it!

There are some NEW details regarding these matters, in August 2015. One of the large trees in my yard died. I managed to eventually cut it down with my little electric chain saw. I cut off and disposed of the smaller branches of the dead tree but the dead trunk of that rather thick tree is beyond anything my little electric chain saw could handle. So I now have a thousand-pound trunk of that dead tree to try to do something with!

SO! I have HALF of my 5-ton-Jib-Crane laying inside my garage, the vertical Mast part. I now NEED the other half of my Jib Crane, the Boom, in order to reassemble the Crane to try to lift the dead tree trunk to try to do something with it. A Village employee has told me that the Village would charge me around $1600 to grind up the wood of the trunk in their chipping equipment, which I cannot afford to pay for.

So I recently gave a letter (hand-delivered to the Village Secretary) which insists that the Village give me back the half of my Jib Crane that they (illegally) hauled away in June 2007. As one might have expected from the above-described behaviors of Thornton employees, I had never been given any Warning that Thornton was going to drag away the Boom of my Jib-Crane or any chance to defend my possessions!

As of 2015, I see that similar Jib Cranes to mine now sell for around $4,500. If Thornton does not return MY possessions (taken WITHOUT any legal WARNING or any indication of any VIOLATION), then I expect to receive the $4,500 value of my Jib Crane from the Thornton Municipal government.

Since I now (Legally) expect this Response of the Village to my hand-delivered Letter, they might as well pay me for three other expenses they caused during that June 2007 adventure: (1) They damaged the right-front-tire on my van as well as bent and destroyed two important pieces of the right-front-suspension in the process, which cost me more than $400 to replace and repair (plus my labor to do so); (2) since they also took away my old but functional lawn mower that day, they should pay me the $200 I had to pay to get a replacement TORO lawnmower then; and (3) the incompetence of the two Thornton Village workers in dragging the 800-pound Jib Crane Boom across my gravel driveway and then 100 feet of ripping up my lawn, left a deep (6 inch) Vee shaped groove which I had to find black dirt for to fill in and to then re-seed, those many hours of labor should have been worth at least a couple hundred dollars.

When the Thornton Municipal government first DECIDED to send a Crew to drag away my Jib Crane Boom, their Village Records clearly have records of the Work Order which clearly was issued for that Crew to come and drag it away. It has always amazed me that Thornton NEVER FELT ANY RESPONSIBILITY for ever INFORMING ME that they were about to Issue that Work Order to take away my Jib Crane Boom and lawnmower. It is not obvious how or if the Village of Thornton will ever return my Jib Crane Boom (or my lawnmower taken at the same time), it is hard to see how they will ever enable me to re-assemble the Jib Crane to lift and move the dead tree trunk. Does this mean that the dead tree trunk will FOREVER lay here? Or what additional malicious things that the Village of Thornton will intend to try to do to me regarding the dead tree trunk, even if they should try to ignore that they TOOK MY PERSONAL POSSESSIONS, without any Notice or Warning or even any knock on my door. These records of the facts regarding the unacceptable behaviors of the Village of Thornton, Illinois have been put in these three Internet web-pages as permanent records which should endure any efforts on Thornton's part to again enter my home to try to find and destroy these (original) written records of evidence.

Amazingly Bad Behavior of the Village of Thornton, Illinois
Amazing Bad Behavior of the Village of Thornton, Illinois, Part 2
Amazing Bad Behavior of the Village of Thornton, Illinois, Part 3

A Minister Threatened with $82,500 PER DAY Fines
Illegal Landfill, Dangerous that No One Cares About

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This presentation was first placed on the Internet in July 2009.

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Carl W. Johnson, Pastor, A Christ Walk Church