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Dr. Brian Harris

A week ago today hundreds of parents and students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 gathered at a rally in Citizens Park to ask the district to allow in-person schooling to resume.

Some spoke while others displayed signs such as, “Open our schools for in-person learning,” or “Face 2 Face learning is essential” (see “I am asking for a choice’: Barrington 220 parents, students rally for in-person learning” and “Hundreds turn out for Barrington rally calling for end to remote learning, restart of student sports”).

A day later on the heals of this assembly of taxpayers, the 220 Board of Education held their last scheduled meeting in September. Some attended to reiterate their concerns during public comment while others objected to the board’s decision to postpone refunding fees taxpayers paid in advance for items such as registration fees, etc (see “District 220 postpones to next year decision on refunding school fees”).

After the public comment, Dr. Brian Harris spoke at length on some new metrics that needed to to be studied and tracked before even considering returning students to classrooms. After he completed his presentation (summarized including a video recording here), he asked the board members for their comments, some of which included:

“Board Secretary Angela Wilcox cited information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on higher suicide rates among young people and the need for social-emotional learning. She joined other board members expressing frustration over what was described as a slow schedule for getting kids back into school buildings.

‘You should have had a plan long ago,’ board member Gavin Newman told Harris.”

There were many more questions and comments directed at Harris. In our opinion, though, the board was going out of there way to be politic with him given their, parents, students and sometimes teachers ever mounting frustration with his handling of the schools situation. But we don’t feel the need to politic with him, so given the mounting frustration most parties have now, we have a suggestion.

Until such time as 220 classrooms reopen to at least hybrid leaning combining classroom and in-person learning, the Board of Education should schedule weekly public meetings with Harris providing timely updates on all progress toward that end. If they need to be Zoom meetings, so be it, but they must happen, because the next scheduled board meeting isn’t until October 6th, and no stakeholder should have to wait that long to discover what new information Harris has then.

If anyone thinks this suggestion is unreasonable, then perhaps they should ask themselves why St. Anne Parish School opened their doors to students late last month as did Saint Viator High School. It’s not divine intervention that opened those schools, just qualified non-union teachers, staff and management (something 220 seems to be lacking).

Finally, a reader wrote, “Maybe the school superintendent should be worried more about the students and their isolated unsafe lock-down than the pampered union teachers, ‘afraid for the unsafe work environment.’” We agree.

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When we present arguments against a graduated income tax — a referendum will be at the top of the November ballot for voters to decide — we hope to convince those of you on the fence. Regular readers of the Tribune editorial page already are familiar with our fiscal policy recommendations and frustration with politicians who have failed for decades to straighten out this state’s spiraling financial mess.

In our view, switching from a constitutionally protected flat tax to a graduated income tax would allow Illinois politicians to tinker with rates — to extract more money from hardworking taxpayers — without forcing them, the politicians, to do the hard work of streamlining government, cutting spending and eliminating the structural deficit that has made this state a deadbeat for more than a decade. It is beyond irresponsible that the state can’t pay for services for its most vulnerable, can’t pay its bills on time and has a credit rating near junk status.

Other states with graduated income tax rates that are running smoothly are running smoothly because they are well-run states — not because of the “magic” of a graduated tax structure.

That’s our take. But to readers undecided, and even for those of you who plan to vote in favor of the graduated tax amendment, give us a shot at trying to change your minds. Unlocking the Illinois Constitution’s flat rate is the wrong path toward a healthy Illinois, which is the outcome we all, regardless of party or politics, want to see. We all strive for the revival of the great state of Illinois. But this is not the way to do it.

Illinois elected officials need to be responsible stewards of the people’s money: Pay the state’s bills on time. Respect taxpayers by spending frugally. Reduce the size and scope of government by focusing on essential services. Offer voters a chance to vote on term limits, redistricting reform and a pension amendment.

Read the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board’s opinions here.

Related:Editorial: Closing arguments, Part One: Why voters should reject Pritzker Tax

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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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A lot of people are worried about the future of our country, but sadly one group we expect to be working on that — i.e., the U.S. Congress — is not doing the job.

Just listen to the hearings on CSPANTV and you’ll see members of both parties working harder to score political points than they are on strengthening our nation. We expect some of this, but the problem has become that it’s almost the only thing that they do.

We need to change their incentives and get Congress back to passing laws that protect and strengthen our country and discourage their self-serving political antics.

Willard Bishop

Barrington Hills

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U.S. Census Bureau workers have begun going door-to-door in the Chicago area to count people who didn’t respond to earlier communication attempts

The work is part of the census bureau’s constitutionally mandated, once-a-decade mission to count everyone living in the country.

Census workers hit the streets here and in parts of some other states and Puerto Rico starting last month, according to the bureau. Attempts will begin in the rest of the country next week.

Field data collection is scheduled to conclude by Sept. 30.

The data will be used to draw county, state and federal legislative districts, among other purposes. It’s based on people living in households as of April 1.

All census takers will have government ID badges with their photographs, U.S. Department of Commerce watermarks, and expiration dates. Census workers may also carry census bureau bags and other equipment with the bureau’s logo.

To confirm a census taker’s identity, you can call the regional census center in Chicago at (312) 579-1500.

Read more here.

Editorial note: Do yourself a favor and fill out the form. It takes less than ten minutes to complete and it’s one less person knocking on your door.

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In just a few days, we have witnessed some very troubling communications decisions made by the District 220 Board of Education and their Superintendent. Some call it censorship, but it’s up to readers to decide that after considering some facts.

Tuesday night, upwards of 1,500 people tuned in to a live stream YouTube broadcast of a special meeting of the District 220 Board that began at 6:30 PM and lasted nearly three hours. For the first half hour of the meeting, a few participants checked off under on-line comments whether they liked or disliked what was being discussed (as seen in the graphic below).

Sometime after 7:00 the ratings were deleted and viewers could no longer register their opinion.

From the start of the meeting, participants were feverishly texting comments on what Superintendent Brian Harris was saying, and more often than not, the texts were much more insightful and interesting than Harris’ canned presentation.

Many of the texts were critical of the District, and around 7:00 PM, the texts were also silenced. The trail of comments were deleted as seen below.

It is also worth noting that the standard YouTube feature of free-form comments was also turned off. To view what we’ve described thus far, click here to view the recording of Tuesday’s meeting.

Yesterday afternoon, District 220 sent out a mass email with a link to a two hour Vimeo recording of the Tuesday meeting (seen here). However, the emailed recording failed to include over forty-five minutes of public comment from community members who waited patiently for two hours for their turn to speak their minds.

There is no question in our minds that the 220 Board of Education, but much more so Superintendent Brian Harris, failed to manage the expectations of parents, students and teachers in the months leading up to the unexpected announcement that fall classes would be all-remote learning last week.

As a result, the parties involved are upset and deserve to have their voices heard. For them to be silenced in the ways we’ve documented is tantamount to censorship.

Note: Those wishing to view the email sent by Dr. Harris yesterday can click here.

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District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris

After announcing earlier this month that the new school year would start in-person with an option for remote learning, Barrington School District 220 officials revised that Wednesday and said it will now be all virtual.

“As guidelines from the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Public Health, county health departments, and other health organizations continue to evolve, we have concluded the ‘Roadmap to Reopening’ as presented at the July 14 Board of Education meeting is not attainable,” Superintendent Brian Harris said in an electronic letter to parents and stakeholders distributed Wednesday.

Following that July 14 meeting, district families were given about 10 days to decide whether their children would attend school in-person – wearing masks – or spend five hours a day doing distance learning when the new academic year starts Aug. 20.

That had been the message Harris delivered at the board meeting as he presented the district’s Roadmap to Reopening plan to board members and nearly 900 viewers who watched the virtual meeting on YouTube. He said then that, “we really want to get all our kids back in a safe environment.”

But in his notification Tuesday, Harris said the only option, for now, is to drop the plan for kids to return to the school buildings.

Read the Chicago Tribune account of what happened here.

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Terrance Wallace is seen being escorted out of the MacArthur room Tuesday evening during the monthly Board of Trustees meeting.

A youth pastor from Chicago has taken dual-guardianship of several young men from some of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods and has allowed them to live in the suburbs where they are offered improved education, discipleship and resources.

Pastor Terrance Wallace, founder of the InZone Projecthelps oversee seven young men living in a suburban home in Wauconda, Illinois, and has brought them into his family in a literal sense. He plans to move over 20 (15 earlier this week) others from the city into a suburban mansion in the affluent Barrington Hills this fall.

Wallace and the family of Angie Mooney, a state education worker, have lived with seven young black men from underserved Chicago communities in Wauconda for over a year. Schools, homes and opportunities are much better in Wauconda compared to the city, Mooney told the Christian Post. 

Plans to bring as many as 25 more boys into the mansion in Barrington Hills, a predominantly white community, this fall has also faced opposition from some community members who argued at a community board meeting this week that “there won’t be oversight” or “protection.” 

“What we’re seeing is a small few who lack the knowledge and experience of having black people in their lives,” Mooney argued. “The education these youth are gaining has created remarkable results in New Zealand and Wauconda. This is what God wanted in Wauconda and will move to Barrington Hills.”

In a Zoom video conference of 193 community members (a recording of which has yet to be made public as promised), 191 responded positively and welcomed InZone’s presence in Barrington Hills, Mooney said. 

Wallace and Mooney discussed their plans to bring the InZone Project to the suburb at the board meeting Tuesday. 

“With what we face as a nation, I think the only way to make America great is to confront our divisions and have conversations with each other,” he said. “We face challenges but I’m strengthened by the Lord to continue to charge forward.”

Read more of The Christian Post story here.

Editorial note: In addition to being a pastor, Wallace’s website states he is a, “motivational speaker, management consultant, innovator, mentor, entrepreneur, change agent and visionary.” 

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“The Village has received multiple requests, concerns and comments regarding InZone and the property occupied by Terrance Wallace.  The Village is in the process of investigating the proposed use and is gathering additional information regarding any such use.  

The Village has retained special counsel, Ancel Glink, to assist with the InZone inquiry as well as pending zoning applications for approval of non-residential uses.  The Village’s counsel has been in contact with Mr. Wallace and is attempting to schedule a meeting to discuss InZone’s proposed uses.  An initial meeting was scheduled with Mr. Wallace to review his proposed use of the property.  However, Mr. Wallace requested that the meeting be cancelled

The Village’s counsel will continue its efforts to meet with Mr. Wallace to obtain additional information to evaluate the proposed use of the property under the applicable local ordinances including but not limited to the building codes, safety codes, and zoning codes.  All properties in the Village must adhere to the Village Code.”

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The Barrington Hills Police Department is investigating recent reports of burglaries to motor vehicles, throughout the Village.  The offenders, are also believed to be responsible for other burglaries to motor vehicles, as well as the theft of several vehicles, in other surrounding communities.

The Department would like to remind residents to always lock their vehicles, whether parked outside or in the garage, and to never leave the keys inside the vehicle, when parked. Residents are also encouraged to always promptly report any suspicious activity to Police by dialing 9-1-1. Thank you.

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