Thumbs-down: To missing youth baseball funds. Kelly Ference, a McHenry woman, is accused of embezzling more than $66,000 from the McHenry Baseball Association. Ference has been convicted of three previous theft-related charges, McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Victor Escarcida said Wednesday. Stealing from a volunteer youth organization is selfish. The McHenry Baseball Association is a nonprofit group that serves about 500 players between 5 and 16 years old. Now officials with the nonprofit have to figure out how the loss in funds will affect its budget heading into the upcoming season. We hope the community can make sure that youth baseball continues in McHenry. And we expect to see the nonprofit organization adopt more stringent fiscal controls to protect youth baseball funds going forward.
Thumbs-up: To the 25th anniversary Judith Svalander’s “The Nutcracker Ballet” opening on the Woodstock Opera House stage this week. The production runs from Saturday through Dec. 17. For many, seeing the Judith Svalander Dance Theatre’s classic version of the ballet, or other versions throughout the Chicago area, is like putting up a Christmas tree during the holidays. Svalander’s Crystal Lake-based School of Ballet also is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Many of her dancers have gone on to become professional dancers, with at least 25 of them dancing in versions of “The Nutcracker” throughout the country this holiday season. We appreciate Svalander’s contributions to the community and the hard work of everyone involved in these magnificent productions.
Thumbs-down: To Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees Chairman Wheeler Coleman, who refuses to admit the board violated the Open Meetings Act. The board approved a $600,000 separation agreement with former President Doug Baker in June, but their agenda was vague and the public was never told Baker planned to resign. The board then approved the agreement after a seven-hour closed meeting. As a result, a DeKalb County judge nullified the deal, forcing it to be re-approved on Thursday. Coleman and the board should change their tune on the Open Meetings Act. Rather than defending their earlier attempt to avoid public scrutiny, they should vow to handle sensitive and important matters of public policy differently in the future. Be transparent about what you’re doing, and you’ll be spared having to do it twice. Not to mention paying legal fees.
Thumbs-down: To Chicago Bears head coach John Fox, who incredibly claimed he “felt good” about his team’s chances to block a chip shot field goal in Sunday’s 15-14 loss to San Francisco instead of allowing the 49ers to score a touchdown and preserve time on the clock for his offense. As noted by ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson, there have been 2,431 field goal attempts inside the 25-yard line since 2001. Only 20 have been blocked. The Bears’ beleaguered coach “felt good” about a 0.82 percent chance. This is why the Bears need a new coach in 2018.