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Paula Jacobsen

The latest Village newsletter came out recently, and it mentions the results of the latest Village annual audit among other things. The sound financial position of our Village is noted, but what is absent of any narrative is how earlier this year, first term trustee Paula Jacobsen caused a potentially damaging accusation that caused the auditor to investigate that accusation.

One question Jacobson was asked to answer during the audit was:

“In your opinion, are there any areas of operation of the Village that do not receive enough oversight of management or board, or any particular weaknesses in internal controls?” 

Jacobsen checked off “Yes.” As a Trustee, she could have taken the opportunity beforehand to gather specific information and to offer a detailed explanation or perhaps even actual facts, but instead submitted her vague audit questionnaire on March 17, 2019 (perhaps hoping to disrupt the April 2 election?).

Jacobson had a wealth of resources at her disposal for weeks before if she had any questions whatsoever on completing her forms from the audit firm. She could have easily gathered information from the Village Treasurer, Director of Administration, Clerk or even the Trustee assigned to Finance, but she did not avail herself of those ample opportunities according to recordings. She could have provided an answer to the question she was asked instead of repeating an anonymous rumor told to her by some residents.

Instead, when asked why she answered “Yes” to the audit question, her initial answer was:

“While I don’t know that it is considered fraud, but some residents have claimed that contracts are being given to certain members of family of the Board, however, that is not evidence of guilt. I don’t know that we have a clear process to evaluate this if in fact this is happening.   I’m not aware of any contract awarded to a Board member.” 

The first thought that came to our minds upon hearing this was that of an immature four-year-old who answers the question “why did you eat those cookies?” with, “Someone said I could.”

Though asked repeatedly, Jacobson would not, or more probably could not offer any specificity to her unsubstantiated allegation, and at times her answers to Trustees questions on her inexplicable answer changed from one minute or meeting month to another.

For example, before the auditor was asked to read back her answer to the question in the presence of the Board, Jacobsen denied checking the “Yes” box repeatedly. She also denied making any claim or charge of process or fraud issues, and she only began to recant her statements once the village president asked the auditor to read them into the record.

Jacobson also stated on more than one occasion that she understood that her responses to all audit questions were private and would be kept anonymous.   Those wishing to listen to the recording of this exchange can do so by clicking here.

She followed up at the June Board of Trustees meeting by reading a written statement that actually reversed her position in May. She stated she believes that fraud and processes have been violated at the Village, and further she made a secondary allegation that the auditing firm was not independent thereby impugning the reputation of the village treasurer, the independent auditor and the finance chairman Mr. Croll and the Village board.

If this sounds pathetic, it is, and it goes on (and on). Rather than continue with what is basically transcribing her lunacy from recordings, we have a better solution for all involved.

The solution to this problem will be for the village to spend further taxpayer dollars to “investigate” the rumor that someone repeated to Jacobson, and then hopefully follow that by providing educational information to Jacobson on the importance and serious nature of the annual financial audit so that in the future she may confidently answer the audit questionnaire with facts instead of vague, unfounded rumor.

-The Observer

Related: Flip, Flop: What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni, and Selman?  (August 30, 2011)

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Woods Creek Lake in Lake in the Hills was closed for several days in June due to the presence of potentially toxic blue-green algae.

Following recent reports of illnesses and dog deaths in other parts of the country, Illinois health officials are warning of the danger from potentially toxic blue-green algae to people and pets.

Water conditions in the summer months are ideal for algae blooms, which are microscopic organisms that occur naturally in lakes, streams, rivers and ponds, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Public Health. Though most blue-green algae are harmless, some can produce toxic chemicals that cause sickness in people and animals.

Residents are encouraged to exercise caution while swimming or participating in recreational activities on Illinois waterways, officials said. Pets should not be allowed to drink from water that contains blue-green algae, nor allowed to lick their fur after swimming in it.

Any person or animal who comes in contact with a possible algae bloom should immediately be rinsed off with clean, fresh water.

Read more of the Daily Herald article here. or visit the IEPA algae website here.

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Barrington Area Unit District 220 board members intend to vote Tuesday, Aug. 13, on whether to place a question on the ballot early next year seeking voter permission to borrow money to fund building projects.

The meeting begins a half hour early at 6:30 PM at District 220’s administrative center, 515 W. Main St. in Barrington.

Board members will need to decide a dollar amount and projects for the planned March 17 referendum. It would be the second time in about a year the district went to voters for funds.

Voters in April defeated a measure seeking to raise property taxes to pay for $185 million in building projects. If the board can’t decide the issue Tuesday, the elected officials would return for a special meeting at the administrative center 7:30 PM Thursday, Aug. 15.

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Tucked on the outer edges of southern Cook County, suburban Park Forest was built to help answer a housing shortage in the 1940s as GIs flooded home from World War II. Before long, it became a model of suburban living, featuring enviable public schools and an attractive downtown shopping center anchored by a Marshall Field’s.

Today, the legacy department store is long gone. The high school, Rich East, is facing such low enrollment that it is being considered for closure. And, as of 2017, financially strapped homeowners were stuck with the second-highest property-tax rate in Cook County.

Among them is Ryan Dupée, who is being billed more than $3,800 in property taxes for a modest, ranch-style home he and his wife bought under foreclosure four years ago for just $25,000.

“It’s a shocker and it’s disappointing because your money could go to other things,” Dupée said, adding that while they aren’t paying a mortgage the property taxes are difficult for them to handle, especially since he’s between full-time jobs as a quality assurance auditor.

Read the full Better Government Association investigation here and realize what we already knew – it’s not just Barrington Hills. 

This story was co-published with Crain’s Chicago Business, as part of a Crain’s Forum project on affordable housing.

 

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Dundee Road in the Barrington and Inverness areas will be closed starting Saturday morning from Barrington to Ela roads, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Officials said the closure will begin at 6 AM Saturday, with Dundee reopening at 5 AM Monday, July 15. The closure is to accommodate the replacement of a crossroad culvert and is part of the Grove Avenue intersection improvement in Barrington.

Officials said local traffic will have access to Dundee over the weekend. The detour will be Barrington Road to Palatine Road to Ela Road.

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With an expansion of Algonquin Road through the Barrington area all be certain in the next few years, Barrington Hills is urging a different approach, and we hope the Illinois Department of Transportation continues to give it serious consideration.

As Bob Susnjara reported Monday, Barrington Hills is pitching the idea of turning Algonquin Road into a so-called scenic parkway, a roadway that would fit into, rather than obliterate, the bucolic, natural setting of northwest Cook County. Algonquin Road cuts through Spring Lake Forest Preserve on its way to the northern Fox Valley.

“It should kind of honor the open space, natural setting that the Cook County Forest Preserve is trying to maintain and what we’re trying to maintain in our community,” Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin told Susnjara.

This is a new approach, and one that reflects the increasing interest in preserving the environment of much of the suburban area — hand in hand, of course, with finding better ways to move frustrating amounts of traffic on a daily basis.

Continue reading the full Daily Herald editorial here.

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Signs of Sudden Oak Death include leaf spots, twig die-back, and bark cankers, which are calluses on trees, often seeping black or reddish ooze.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The pathogen which causes Sudden Oak Death, a plant disease that has killed large tracts of oaks and affected many native plant species in California, Oregon, and Europe, has been found in Illinois.

Phytophthera ramorum, the causal agent of Sudden Oak Death, has been confirmed in ornamental plants at 10 Walmart locations in Cook, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Monroe, St. Clair, Stephenson, and Will counties, and one Hy-Vee location in McDonough County through cooperative efforts between the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as diagnostic support from University of Illinois, Michigan State, Cornell, and Kansas State Universities, and USDA labs.

The issue was first uncovered by an Indiana confirmation at a Walmart in late May on rhododendrons from Parkhill Plants in Oklahoma, which sourced the plants from nurseries in Washington and British Columbia.

Shipping records were provided to Illinois officials shortly thereafter. Eighteen states in total received these plants.

IDOA and USDA field staffs began visiting identified sites in late May inspecting the plants with a primary focus on rhododendron as the main suspected carrier of the disease, but also inspected other known host plants such as azalea, viburnum, and lilac.

Read more here, or for details and photos, visit www.suddenoakdeath.org.

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