Guest Column: $500,000 lawsuit filed against Winnebago County
By Mike Castronovo
Frustrated by a near two-year battle over his access rights, and accidents on the re-designed section of Harrison Avenue, this writer began speaking at Winnebago County Board meetings to try to get something done. What ended up getting done, was that he had his First Amendment rights violated on repeated occasions by the County of Winnebago.
After numerous failed attempts to find representation, Mr. Castronovo took a bold step. On Feb 23, he headed down to the Federal Courthouse building and filed a half-million-dollar civil lawsuit against the County of Winnebago, and 13 Individuals. (Scott Christiansen, Joseph Vanderwerf, Wayne Vlk, Pearl Hawks, Dave Fiduccia, Frank M. Gambino, Angie Goral, Kyle Logan, Kay Mullins, Tom Owens, Dianne Parvin, Steve Schultz and Dave Tassoni). The lawsuit also cites the county’s violation of Mr. Castronovo’s 14th Amendment rights relating to his loss of access to his property on Harrison Avenue. A jury trial will be scheduled as soon as all the preparations and pre-trial meetings take place.
To announce the lawsuit, Mr. Castronovo spoke at the county board meeting on Feb 24, and plainly told the members present of the filing, and that he would “see you in court.” A friend of his went with him to the meeting, and she personally served seven of the 14 summonses to those present. The summonses were quickly snatched away by a county agent. Whether or not this “snatching” was legal will probably also come up in court. This will probably prove to be a long trial since the Plaintiff (Mr. Castronovo) has been collecting evidence and lining up witnesses for over a year. His hope is to correct the damage done to himself and others by making Winnebago County government more accountable for their actions, and protecting local citizens’ Constitutional rights.
An abbreviated copy of the speech follows:
Hello, my name is Mike Castronovo. I am a lifelong resident of Rockford and Winnebago County, and the owner of a home occupation business Studio B Digital recording located on Harrison Avenue. Tonight my topic is the games people play.
There are a lot of games people play throughout life. Simple children’s games like tag, hide-and-go-seek, are fun and entertaining. But as adults other games get played that are not so pleasant. Games that harm people, like… “the power game,” or the “we can do anything we want” game,, or the game that believes that “we are not accountable for our actions.” When these kind of games distort the truth, or manipulate the system, and worst of all violate citizens’ rights, the games must stop. To this end, someone has to put their finger in the dike and stop the flood—“today, that someone is me.”
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, Winnebago County, and all others involved, NO MORE GAMES! Yesterday, I filed a constitutional rights lawsuit in the federal building , you’ve been served, I’ll see you in court.
Mr. Castronovo is encouraging others who have been censored at county board meeting to contact him by phone at (815) 398-4475. He is hoping to give them also a chance to voice their frustration.
From the March 9-15, 2011, issue