Category Archives: Justin Wykoff

Hot Air

More On GMOs

So, I know an evolutionary biologist who is working tirelessly on her PhD. This morning at The Pencil back office (AKA Soma Coffee) I leaned close to her and cooed the words, “What’s your take on GMOs? And can you say it in one sentence?”

Her response: “People are afraid of the wrong thing.”

[Just to clarify, she doesn’t mean the gen. pub. should be afraid of a nuclear exchange rather than GMOs, for instance, or the bogeyman. She means people’s knee-jerk GMO repulsion is based on a basic misunderstanding of the process.]

From "The Creature from the Black Lagoon"

Scarier Than GMOs?

Which is what I’ve been saying all along!

Bullets Vs. Kid Gloves

Just wondering: Why do cops kill unarmed black kids for everything up to and including jay-walking but when an armed, white gun nut goes on a deranged quest to ambush police and fire fighters (employing live fire and bombs) in order to overturn our purported tyrannical gov’t, the greatest care is taken to insure his safety before he’s apprehended?


Douglas Lee Leguin: Still Alive Despite Firing At Cops And Detonating Bombs

Kid Stuff

Personal to police depts. all over this holy land: Stop playing GI Joe; you’re adults now (links here, here, and here).

Ferguson, MO

Law Enforcement?

Negotiable Justice

Justin Wykoff’s att’y sez his client’s case will go to a jury.

Wykoff, of course, was the well-liked, well-respected Bloomington Department of Public Works project manager who got cracked for allegedly scamming a quarter of a mill USD* in a kickback scheme with a Bedford contractor (*of a total of $800,00 bilked). Folks in and out of local gov’t were shocked when news of Wykoff’s bust emerged. Nevertheless, the feds seem to have a strong case against him.



Usually, guys accused of fraud and embezzlement in federal district courts don’t go to trial because they strike plea agreements with prosecutors. Wykoff’s lawyer, John Boren of Martinsville, acc’d’g to today’s Herald Times, is ready to go all the way to fight the charges. Boren told the H-T he’ll call for a jury trial.

Kinky public employees rarely want to go before a jury because if there’s one thing a panel of peers doesn’t cotton to, it’s stealing their tax dollars. Still, Wykoff and Boren want to take their chances before a dozen registered voters.

My guess is they’re betting Wykoff’s likability will be a big asset in their case. In fact, Borden just may be negotiating a plea agreement even as we speak with Wykoff singing about his co-conspirators in exchange for a slap on the wrist. By threatening to go to a jury, Boren may effectively be saying, Hey, you willing to risk your whole case? Gimme the best you’ve got and I’ll sign my guy up for voice lessons.

Kyle Killing Minors Moundsmen

Kyle Schwarber, late of the Indiana University Hoosiers baseball nine, still is battering minor league pitchers as he enters his third month of professional baseballing.

Schwarber pounded college hurlers on his way to becoming the Chicago Cubs’ top choice in June amateur draft (No. 4 overall). He’s kept up the onslaught even against superior competition in the for-pay game.


Schwarber, The Night He Was Drafted By The Cubs

The kid known as The Hulk has settled in as a left fielder for the Daytona Cubs, a High A minors outfit. Schwarber played catcher for the Hoosiers but isn’t considered an adequate potential major league backstop. By playing the outfield, his path to the bigs just may be shorter. Again, expect to see him swinging the bat in Wrigley Field either in September 2015 or right out of the gate after spring training 2016.

And, again, stay tuned here for all the Kyle Schwarber news you can ask for.

Your Daily Hot Air

Kid Stuff

A couple of proposed swaps have been talked about in recent days here in the bustling metrop. that is Bloomington, Indiana.

Children Trading

City Business?

One I touched upon the other day: some folks put up a petition on suggesting that the city trade its Certified Tech Park land for Habitat for Humanity’s wooded tract just to the west of it. The idea being that the several dozen planned HforH homes should be built on city-owned land and that the wooded tract be preserved. Proponents of this solution say, by golly, it’s so simple any child should have been able to figure it out. You get to preserve one of the last remaining green areas of the central city and HforH gets to put up structures on land already prepped for development.

The other swap is one I’ve heard many an Average Citizen talk about ever since that big Public Works Department scandal broke last week. You know, the one where a heretofore well-liked, trusted PW project manager allegedly conspired with an out-of-town concrete outfit to bilk the city out of $800,000. Again, the proposed swap is so simple a kindergartner could have come up with it: Just recoup the 800 Gs and use the swag to pay for all those things the revenue from B-town’s downtown parking meters were supposed to finance.

If only the affairs of gov’t could be so simple. I chatted with a city official yesterday who provided the following caveats about that land swap idea:

  • “It’s impractical” at the very least.
  • The plans the city has already spent tons of dough on for the Tech Park cannot be switched over to another tract of land just like that. Similarly, HforH’s plans would have to be re-drawn as well — also at a significant cost.
  • The topographic and ecological conditions of the Tech Park area cannot easily accommodate a single-family-homes development nor can the wooded area adequately underlie the mixed-use Tech Park structures.
  • Some folks avoid the northwestern end of the B-Line Trail, the part that curves through the wooded area, because it is isolated, lonely and, frankly, a little scary for those who fear unexpected head-clunkings. Should homes be built around that end of the trail, it’ll be visible to a lot of neighbors. “Eyes on the trail is a good thing,” the official said.

The Bloomington City Council will vote on zoning variances for the Habitat project Wednesday, March 26th. Expect a quick okay.

Now then, what about that $800,000 windfall the city will get just as soon as Justin Wykoff and his pal, the concrete contractor Roger Hardin, turn their ill-gotten cash over to the proper authorities? (That is if they are indeed guilty of skimming said lettuce.)

This one’s as childlike as any scheme concocted by a kindergartner. It assumes Mayor Mark Kruzan is emptying out one of his old sports bags so he can stuff it with the cash the alleged embezzlers will tote over to him once they get sprung from the federal joint in Indy. The assumption is Kruzan will simply dole out the dough and every dept. head in the city will be fat and happy and city-workers will then go about the business of sawing down those damnable new parking meters.

Money in Bag

Okay, Boys, We’re Square

Kids, it ain’t gonna happen. Let’s not even concern ourselves with the probability that the cash — or most of it, at least — is long gone. The city can’t just spend found cash like a drunken sailor. It’ll have to go through channels, return the money to its original funding source, and then go through the whole process of re-allocating it. It’s not as though the $800,000 was sitting in a pile in some city safe somewhere and the bad guys (allegedly) swiped it in the middle of the night. It’s all too complicated for a straightforward reimbursement and redistribution.

Much as we wish it, spending a city’s money is not child’s play.

My Homestate Blues

Personal to the voters of the great state o’Illinois: y’all had better kick the crap (at the ballot box, natch) out of the newly-crowned Republican candidate for Guv this coming Nov.


Dem. Gov. Pat Quinn (left) Faces Rauner In The Fall

Bruce Rauner is a plutocratic, union-busting “right-to-work” advocate, health care profiteer, low-tax fetishist, and social-service expenditure slasher. He’s a Me Party dreamboat and will accelerate in his own small way this holy land’s headlong rush toward a cold, uncaring, bottom-line-only society. Assuming we’re not there already.

Anyway, Illinois voters, if you do elect this guy to be the state’s big boss, I’ll lose all respect for you. Assuming I haven’t already.

Hot Air

The Political Asylum

Our Fox News friends and other purported inhabitants of this Earth who, in truth, live in other worlds, are mad at Barack O. because he wants companies to pay certain salaried employees for their overtime hours.

Philosopher and women of letters Elisabeth Hasselbeck (who, in her spare time, co-hosts the Fox & Friends morning gabfest) sez mandating overtime will undercut America’s work ethic. According to this titan of cerebral stuff and other defenders of the plutocracy, now peeps who hope to get ahead by “going the extra mile” will become lazy, unambitious and, well, probably Democratic, mainly because they’re going to get paid for the time they work.


Hasselbeck: Only Lazy Bums Want Paychecks

That, my babies, is today’s Republican Party in a nutshell. Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Tricky Dick Nixon are spinning in their graves as we speak. That’s how mad the mad, mad, mad, mad party has become.

And yet, our Dems still lose any number of elections to them.

Park It

B-town city council guy Steve Volan will be on WFIU’s Noon Edition today at, duh, noon. He’ll be perorating about the parking situ. here in our burgeoning burgh.

Marc Antony

Steve Volan

And I’m certain the genteel hosts of NE will treat him with the respect and deference a statesman of his high station truly deserves.

[Personal to Steve: As if you couldn’t have guessed by now, I’ll never stop being a smart-ass.]

Confidence Game

So the Feds have dropped the hammer on former Bloomington Public Works big shot Justin Wykoff and a couple of henchmen from Bedford for allegedly bilking the city out of 800-large.

Wykoff City ID


Acc’d’g to US Attorney Joe Hogsett, the Bedford boys submitted phony invoices for construction work and Wycoff approved them, a task he handled with great aplomb and for 33 percent of the take.

It wasn’t until a puzzled fellow Public Works employee dropped a dime on him that the first dark clouds marred Wycoff’s day. Wycoff was a project manager, which means he had a certain amount of say-so in how the city’s dough got spent. Still, you mean to tell me there was no one with the fiduciary responsibility to occasionally peek over Wycoff’s shoulder?

We’re a trusting lot here in B-town.

Twitter Twaddle

As you may or may not know, I don’t really use Twitter. Oh sure, I’ve got an account (don’t ask me how to get there) but I have it set up so it automatically puts out notifications that there’s a new post on The Pencil. Otherwise, I have no idea how many followers I have or even if some terrorist group has hijacked it and is even now devising plans to make another jet vanish.

See, Twitter serves no purpose for me at all. Not even to pimp for this blog, considering I’ve done absolutely nothing to grow my followers list. I just set my account up, well, because it seemed the right thing to do, rather like that time in the early ’90s when I grew a ponytail even though my hairline had already receded dramatically.

Anyway, I’m a strong proponent of using any tech advancement only if it serves a need I already had when said machine or service came onto the market. And I had zero need for Twitter before Twitter came out.

It never occurred to me that I needed to let a widening circle of semi-acquaintances know that the slice of sourdough bread I ate this morning gave me gas.

So, here’s a listing of ridiculous Tweets that illustrate precisely how useless the damned thing is. BTW: h/t to my old pal Jacqueline Gevercer for this. Jacqui was the chief bartender at the Matchbox (“Chicago’s most intimate bar”) back when I met the future Mrs. Loved One there. She was one of toughest dames you could imagine (Jacqui was; although T-Lo could give her a run for her dough).

From Just Something - Creative

Click Image To Read

Sample Tweet:

queue at @sainsburys salad bar for 15 mins to find they had no egg OR giant cous cous. To say this has ruined Monday would be an understatement [all sic]

Read away, with the understanding, I’d suspect, that a few of these Tweeters were aware of their own over-dramatizations. Some of them, though, seem truly distraught by their imagined ordeals.

Rainy Night In Georgia

Here’s the prettiest sad song you’ll hear today — or this year, for that matter.

Tony Joe White wrote it and it became a hit for Brook Benton in 1970. TJW has recording a couple of versions. This one is my fave. It makes feeling the blues a pleasure.

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