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Martin McLaughlin, left, and Marci Suelzer

The voters in the 52nd Illinois House District have been spoiled by the representation of David McSweeney.

To all those who say individual state representatives are powerless in a General Assembly controlled by legislative leaders, we say look at the performance of the Barrington Hills Republican.

For eight years, McSweeney has served with unmatched energy and tireless efforts at building relationships on both sides of the aisle. and by keenly picking his spots, he’s been uniquely successful at getting things done.

McSweeney will be a tough act to follow, but the voters have two good options to do so — Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin and Democrat Marci Suelzer of Island Lake, who brings a well-rounded background in legal affairs and mental health.

We recommend McLaughlin, the Republican.

Read the full Daily Herald Editorial Board endorsement here.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other Democratic politicians want voters to profoundly amend the Illinois Constitution. Call their proposal the “Pritzker Tax,” placed on the ballot thanks to exclusively Democratic votes in the General Assembly.

For the first time since Connecticut in 1996, if approved, an American state would switch from a flat income tax to a graduated tax. That is, if you earn five times what your neighbor earns, you must pay five times as much to the state. In 2018, Colorado voters rejected an amendment to convert from flat to graduated. North Carolina and Kentucky have gone the opposite direction, to flat taxes.

The switch hasn’t gone well for Connecticut, where progressively higher income and property taxes have driven residents to other states. The change would be similarly bad for Illinois, which already has lost population for six straight years. As young people abandon this state or don’t return here to start their families and careers, the Illinois Exodus intensifies. Every time a taxpayer departs for Florida, Tennessee or Texas, the tax burden on those of us who remain grows heavier.

So each of us should think skeptically, not reflexively by political tribe, about what the Pritzker Tax would do to Illinois. Five reasons, among others we’ll discuss in future installments, why you should vote it down:

  • The pols haven’t earned trust
  • ‘Save Illinois — and get a tax cut too!’
  • ‘Double pinkie swear, this time is different!’
  • What the Dems don’t admit
  • ‘Let the people vote’

Read the full Chicago Tribune Editorial Board’s opinions here.

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Martin McLaughlin, left, and Marci Suelzer are candidates for the 52nd state House District seat.

Six candidates vying for three Illinois House seats from the North and Northwest suburbs on Nov. 3 debated the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the state budget during a Zoom interview with members of the Daily Herald Editorial Board this week.

The interviews were with candidates running for seats in the 51st, 52nd and 54th House districts.

In the 52nd District, Democrat Marci Suelzer of Island Lake and Republican Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin are vying for the seat long held by GOP Rep. David McSweeney, who isn’t seeking reelection.

McLaughlin criticized the state for passing a 2020-21 fiscal year spending plan, including a $6 billion deficit and without addressing the economic impact of business closures due to the pandemic.

“I believe the legislature should have been involved in the decision making,” he said. “And I’d like to see that taken up in fall session because I think we’re going to miss our numbers by more than we could ever imagine. I just want the state to recognize the revenue will not be there, and to be proactive about that, whatever that takes as far as reductions in spending or cuts or an overall look.”

Read more here.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants you to trust him. He and his fellow Democrats are pushing their “fair tax” proposal on the November ballot. And they promise that if you vote “yes,” they’ll only take from the rich, not the middle class.

They’re spinning the story on video ads that Pritzker is paying for, and in the media. And here’s the spin: If you vote for Pritzker’s “fair tax” amendment, and change the state constitution to abolish the current flat tax, there’s no way they’ll use their new “progressive” tax to reach down into the middle class and grab middle-class money.

No way. They promise. Trust them.

Who wouldn’t trust Pritzker? And just look at House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Democratic Party boss of Illinois, smiling impishly, even with all that federal heat on him and the FBI’s big federal bus rolling back and forth between Springfield and Chicago. Who wouldn’t trust Boss Madigan? Isn’t trust everything?

Some of you want to trust them. I get it. They’re powerful people, and Illinoisans have been trained to bow and scrape before their lords. Besides, I bet that some who believe they’ll only tax the rich also want to believe that someday, they might have tiny purple unicorns as pets.

But the problem is reality — and a series of excellent Chicago Tribune editorials on broken promises from the political class in Springfield.

Read more of John Kass’ column here.

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A Union Pacific Northwest line train arrives at the Barrington Metra Station on March 16, 2020, in Barrington. Fewer than a dozen commuters boarded. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Metra, which is struggling financially during the pandemic, said Union Pacific’s refusal to send conductors into the train cars is costing the commuter rail system $1 million a month in lost ticket revenue.

Union Pacific, which operates the UP North, Northwest and West lines, is not allowing conductors back into the aisles to punch tickets, citing coronavirus safety concerns. That has created a “no fare” policy, Metra said, essentially giving passengers on those lines a free ride for the foreseeable future.

“Because UP conductors are neither selling tickets nor validating fares, most riders on their trains have been riding for free, which is hurting the system financially and is not fair to riders on the other lines who are being asked to show their fares,” Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said Tuesday.

Metra has been hard-hit by the pandemic, operating at about 10% of its normal ridership as people continue to work from home and attend school remotely. The transit agency projects $682 million in lost revenue through the end of 2021.

Read more here.

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$1.7 million per patient!

(From left) Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, touring the $65.9 million emergency coronavirus hospital at McCormick Place on April 17 — the day Pritzker announced the first five patients had been transferred there. Only 33 more would follow. Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Taxpayers spent nearly $66 million fashioning McCormick Place into an emergency coronavirus hospital with 2,750 beds this past spring amid fears that COVID-19 patients would overwhelm hospitals in the Chicago area.

Those fears turned out to be unfounded. Just 38 patients were transferred to the sprawling convention center — meaning taxpayers’ cost for the makeshift hospital turned out to be more than $1.7 million per patient, on average.

But top aides to Mayor Lori Lightfoot say her decision to initiate the project with the federal government and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority was an important “insurance policy” at a time of “immense emergency.”

“It’s something I’m incredibly proud of,” says Samir Mayekar, Lightfoot’s deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development who says the money was “not spent in vain.”

He also notes that the medical equipment is being stored and can be redeployed if needed.

To complete the McCormick Place project, the authority — a city-state governmental body known as McPier that runs the convention center and owns Navy Pier — tapped Walsh Construction, a politically connected Chicago company that’s built everything from highways to high-rises.

Read the full Sun*Times Watchdog report here.

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IDOT plans to replace the bridge on Algonquin Road at Spring Creek in Barrington Hills sometime between 2022 and 2026

IDOT has budgeted $805,000 for Phase I “Initial Construction – Pavements” for Algonquin Road from IL 25 (Kennedy Dr) to IL 68 (Dundee Rd) in 2021.

Additionally, they have earmarked $5,630,00 for bridge replacement on IL 62 at Spring Creek 1.4 miles west of Rt. 59 in 2022-2026.

A copy of IDOT’s plans for IL District 52 can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Dispensaries across the state have sold more than $239 million worth of recreational weed since the start of the year.

After campaigning and making good on a promise to lift the statewide prohibition on marijuana, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that Illinois collected over $52 million in taxes during the first six months of legalization.

Sales of recreational cannabis started on Jan. 1, when hordes of eager pot buyers flooded the few dozen medical dispensaries that were able to transition into dual-use stores. And with pot businesses deemed essential in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly sales have remained strong.

Weed shops unloaded nearly $48 million in pot products in June, marking the most successful month of sales so far, according to figures released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. All told, more than $239 million worth of recreational weed has been sold since the start of the year.

More than $34 million of the revenue came from excise taxes, far more than the $28 million Pritzker’s budget estimated the state would collect during the same period. Another $18 million was collected through sales taxes that will be shared with local governments, according to the governor’s office.

The Illinois Department of Revenue estimates that nearly $26 million will go toward the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Read more here.

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“At the July 14 Board meeting, Dr. Harris presented the framework for the district’s Roadmap to Reopening for the 2020-21 school year. The district prepared educational plans and operational protocols based on guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the state’s five-phase reopening plan, Restore Illinois.

As long as Illinois remains in Phase 4, families will have TWO OPTIONS to choose from for the start of the 2020-21 school year. Families who have multiple students enrolled in the district can choose a different option for each child. The first day of school for grades 1-12 is Thursday, August 20. The first day of school for Pre-K and kindergarten is Monday, August 24.

  • IN-PERSON LEARNING: Students will attend school with all proper health protocols and procedures in place.
  • DISTANCE LEARNING: Students will engage in all Distance Learning from the beginning of the 2020-21 school year until Winter Break. This option will include more rigorous guidelines, based on feedback from Distance Learning in Spring 2020. Families will be allowed to change to in-person learning after Winter Break (January 7, 2021). Please note, if an elementary student opts out of in-person learning, the student’s Distance Learning teacher may not be a teacher at that student’s home school. If a middle school student opts out of in-person learning, the student’s Distance Learning teachers may be based out of Barrington Middle School Prairie or Station campuses.

Families who wish to select the Distance Learning option must complete a survey in Infinite Campus, which will be emailed out to all families today at 9:00 AM. Families who wish to do in-person learning, but do not wish to use district-provided bus transportation through Winter Break will also have to complete the survey. Families who plan to return to in-person learning and use district-provided bus transportation this fall DO NOT need to complete the survey.

The deadline to opt out of in-person learning and district provided transportation is Friday, July 24, 2020.”

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Barrington Area Unit District 220 will be giving its students the option to return to school for the 2020-21 school year with in-person learning on campus or opt out and continue to do remote learning from home.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 is proposing two options for how students can attend classes in the 2020-21 academic year.

Similar to other school systems, District 220 officials this week announced a plan that would feature flexibility for students and families. The district is made up of eight elementary schools, two middle schools and Barrington High School.

The plan, set to be presented to the school board at a July 14 meeting, is based on guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health, district officials said.

While District 220 intends to hold in-person learning on its campuses this fall, a key component of its “Roadmap to Reopening” would allow also students to opt out and instead choose to continue remote learning, as was required during the statewide lockdown this spring.

District 220 board President Penny Kazmier said the proposal was formed after officials heard concerns from both sides.

Read more here.

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