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Archive for the ‘OP/Ed’ Category

“The pushback builds. And that levee is just about to break.”

“If you’d told me six months ago that the governor of Illinois would declare churches ‘nonessential’ and shut them down, while liquor stores are ‘essential’ and open, I’d have asked what blend of weed you were smoking,” Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society told me.

What we’ve been smoking? Fear. It’s all been tightly rolled in the scraps of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. We’ve been inhaling deeply for months.

And the leaders of the lockdown party — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — are on the verge of losing control. Rookie politicians make rookie mistakes.

Pritzker’s initial stay-at-home-order, in March, did not consider worship services as essential. But after the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of a church in Lena, Illinois, the governor scrambled to modify his order. Pritzker allowed worship services but imposed social distancing guidelines and limited the free exercise of religion to only 10 or fewer people at a time.

Read more here.

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To maximize participation, the state should mail a ballot to every registered voter. At the same time, it will be critical to preserve and protect in-person voting options.

This year’s primary election season will go down in history as the time American voters braved the threat of a deadly virus in order to cast their ballots. 

Amid rising calls for the public to stay home and avoid crowds to stem the coronavirus outbreak, some states chose to delay their elections while others forged ahead. Fear, anger and confusion reigned, regardless of the decision. With November fast approaching, this much is clear: We must rethink our democracy’s reliance on in-person Election Day voting.

Illinois dealt with widespread confusion on its March 17 Election Day, from poorly communicated last-minute polling location changes to a shortage of poll workers and cleaning supplies. These inefficiencies created long lines and big crowds, heightening the risks for poll workers and voters alike.

In a March 30 poll, roughly two in three U.S. adults said they were uncomfortable with the idea of voting in person. Yet voters in Wisconsin were forced to stand in line for hours to vote on April 7, after Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute order to delay the election was blocked by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. At least seven cases of coronavirus in the state have now been linked to Election Day.

Wisconsin’s experience makes it clear that last-minute changes can disenfranchise voters and put the public at risk. It’s impossible to rule out a lingering COVID-19 or a resurgent second wave, so it’s urgent that we prepare for November’s consequential election like the emergency that it is. Illinois will need to do more to ensure the safety of in-person voting, to promote alternative voting options and to prepare election authorities for increased demand for such alternatives.

So what’s right for Illinois moving forward?

Read the Better Government Association article here.

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The Village of Wayne is described on their website as,

“A BEAUTIFUL, FRIENDLY AND SAFE RESIDENTIAL AND EQUESTRIAN COMMUNITY FOUNDED AND SUPPORTED BY VOLUNTEERS.”

Established in 1834, the Village, located in both DuPage and Kane Counties, had 2,431 residents as of the 2010 US Census living on minimum four (4) acre parcels.

Unique about Wayne is that it has one zip code and its own post office – something almost unheard of today.

The reason we are enlightening readers with this background is that the Village of Wayne has no documented cases of COVID-19. None!

This is not to say no one has contracted some form of the virus, but according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDBH) map (see below), Zip Code 60184 is blank:

(Click on map to enlarge)

The Village of Barrington Hills falls primarily under Zip Code 60010, along with portions or all of Deer Park, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Kildeer, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Port Barrington, South Barrington, Tower Lakes and, of course, Barrington.

The estimated population of 60010 was 46,350 in 2017, or a little more than eleven times that of Barrington Hills. The IDPH report indicates only 40 people have contracted the virus in 60010, not one person has died from it and we’re aware of no one in Barrington Hills who has tested positive.

All we read or hear in the news every day are numbers of doom and gloom from Pritzker and Lightfoot. Hopefully, the positive numbers from 60010 form a basis for discussions in our community. That discussion should begin with ways to reopen suburban businesses now!

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Our Village Board of Trustees meets this evening, and one of the topics on their agenda is the,Open Burning Ordinance.” We have the sneaking suspicion this might me the first of many occasions this subject will appear in their and other’s agendas.

Many residents have shared their thoughts and frustrations on this ordinance since it was first passed around the turn of the century. It rarely comes up in public discussion even though open burning of “bonfires” is a daily occurrence somewhere in Barrington Hills.

Since it will be discussed tonight, here are some of our collective thoughts on what we see as the two primary components of contention of the ordinance:

Bonfire size:

The code states, “A bonfire shall not be more than 5 ft X 5 ft X 5 ft in dimension.”

Our experience is that few residents gather a bonfire for the purposes of roasting weenies and s’mores. When tree limbs and other debris are stacked on their five-acre property, can it be assumed that residents are following code or is it more likely that their bonfires are “illegal” due to the size?

Clearly there needs to be limits to the limits of the burn pile (our technical term), but the current limits are too low and unrealistic in most cases.

Hours and duration burning is allowed:

No bonfire shall be started or maintained other than between the hours of 10:00 AM. to 10:00 PM and for a maximum duration of 3 hours per day:

Experience shows winds are almost always calmest in the early morning and late evening hours. On any given day, by 7:00 – 8:00 AM, if you cannot see some neighborhoods with smoke rising, you will likely smell it some days.

Then, depending on the season, by 6:00 PM people are outdoors enjoying their property from barbecues to bocce, and they likely do not appreciate the smell of smoke other than that from their own grills. Also, in the spring and fall, who does not want to open their windows for fresh, cool air?

Summarizing, when it comes to size and time/duration of bonfires, although in most cases inadvertently, residents are breaking the law. If the codes are deemed acceptable, they should be enforced. If not, the need to be amended.

The Board of Trustees meeting is at 6:30, and a link to the remote proceedings can be accessed here.

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J.B. Pritzker listens intently in the background as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot dictates policy in Springfield.

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of 220 schools, issued the following update Friday shortly after J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois public and private schools would closed for the remainder of the school year: 

“Dear Barrington 220 Community,

This afternoon Governor Pritzker canceled in person classes at all Illinois schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

Given the current public health crisis and the need to put everyone’s health and safety above all else, I’m sure this news does not come as a surprise. However, I share your disappointment, as I know many of you, including myself, were holding out hope that somehow our students and staff would be able return to our school buildings before the end of the year.

I know this announcement brings forth many questions about how to pick up items left in our school buildings, summer school, BHS graduation and other big end of the year events, just to name a few. Please know the district has been working on a plan for all situations. More information will be coming from your school principal on these topics and many others over the next few weeks.”

What we cannot begin to comprehend is why Pritzker chose Friday afternoon to devastate the moral of thousands of students, teachers and parents. 

He makes his daily update addresses each afternoon, so what harm would have come from announcing the news today instead Friday? The answer is none, and that’s inexcusable. 

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The Barrington Hills Bulletin Board claims to be, “AN ALTERNATE RESOURCE OUTLET FOR LOCAL BARRINGTON HILLS RESIDENTS TO READ, COMMENT AND REACT TO NEWS AND TOPICS WITH THE INTENT TO EDUCATE, PROVIDE AWARENESS, TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO RESIDENTS IN A UNCENSORED FORMAT.”

The Barrington Hills Bulletin Board posts fabrications, typo-ridden incoherent ramblings and now offers a new feature to their minimally followed blog; censorship of comments that are posted on Facebook (“…some comments may have been filtered out”).

As for the offensive comment that was, “filtered out”?

“Paragraphs and proper grammar and punctuation would be nice.”

So much for transparency.

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The 6th Congressional District, held by Democrat Sean Casten

 

We don’t put editorials on the front page often.

But time is running out on representative government in Illinois.

May 3 is the magic deadline for both houses of the Illinois General Assembly to agree to put the Fair Maps Amendment on the November referendum ballot.

Here are the main reasons that probably won’t happen:

1. House Speaker Madigan doesn’t want it to, and truth be told, most other Democratic Party leaders don’t want it to either.

2. Gov. Pritzker doesn’t want any competition that might undermine his progressive income tax proposal, which already has been placed on that November ballot.

3. With the novel coronavirus necessarily occupying everyone’s attention, it will be virtually impossible to rally the kind of public uproar necessary to force the issue.

Read the complete Daily Herald editorial here.

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We have several concerns with the referendum that the Barrington School Board chose to place on the March 17 ballot, but for the sake of time, we’ll forego listing them all and get down to our primary objection, which happens to be our most timely one.

A few short months ago, District 220 issued the following press release:

“Barrington 220 is proud to announce it has been named one of the 2019 Top Workplaces in the Chicago area by the Chicago Tribune. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner, Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection. Click here to see the full list.”

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of Schools, wrote the following of 220’s top workplace distinction:

“I am very proud of our staff for making Barrington 220 a great place to work. Their dedication and passion are reflected each day in the outstanding education we provide to our students.”

In fact, District 220 is the only school district listed on the Chicago Tribune’s list of Top 150 Workplaces in the Chicago area. We think that’s admirable, but the reality sets in all too quickly for parents, students, teachers, staff and, above all, taxpayers when considering another list.

In the most recent ranking of best high schools in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report, Barrington High School ranked 35th.

Those high schools ahead of Barrington in the Chicago area were: Adlai E Stevenson HS (6), Libertyville HS (10), Hinsdale Central HS (12), John Hersey HS (13), Deerfield HS (14), New Trier Township HS Winnetka 15), Glenbrook North HS (16), Lincoln Park HS (17), Prospect HS (18), Neuqua Valley HS (19), Buffalo Grove HS (20), Glenbard West HS (21), William Fremd HS (22), Vernon Hills HS (23), Glenbrook South HS (24), Lake Forest HS (25), Highland Park HS (26), Evanston Township HS (27), Westinghouse HS (28), Metea Valley HS (29), York Community HS (30), Naperville Central HS (31), Naperville North HS (32) and St. Charles North HS (34).

When considering the two lists we’ve shared, we must ask why District 220’s board and, more specifically, Dr. Brian Harris, can be so pleased with Barrington’s lackluster rank among other high schools.

There was a time when New Trier and Barrington High Schools were the gold standards to be considered when families were relocating to the Chicago area. As one can see, New Trier is still well respected, and we challenge our Board of Education to commit to trying to improve the Barrington High School that we once enjoyed and was so widely envied.

Passing the proposed referendum will not accomplish this. Perhaps when the Board begins such initiatives, we’ll look forward to endorsing them.

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Pritzker’s plan would replace Illinois’ flat tax with a graduated income tax projected to increase revenue by $3.6 billion a year, chiefly by hiking tax rates on the top 3% of all earners.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s speech Wednesday was billed as his annual budget address. But it was much more than that.

The budget part of the speech held few surprises and was far less ambitious than last year’s agenda. After a first year in which Pritzker passed gambling and cannabis legislation and a $45 billion infrastructure plan, the governor is taking a breather this year, relatively speaking.

The key part of Pritzker’s address was the governor’s pitch for a constitutional amendment that would enable him to change the state’s tax structure and make wealthy people pay more.

“This budget is a bridge to the future,” Pritzker said. And from there, he went on to lay out the benefits, as he sees them, from the graduated income tax.

Read more of Friday’s Tribune op-ed here if you missed it.

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A Barrington High School student addresses the 220 Board of Education February 18, 2020

The Barrington District 220 Board of Education met earlier this week, and as is the custom, the board opened their meeting to public comment. They received only one, but it was a good one:

Well, hi, my name is (student), and I am a junior at Barrington High School, and why I’m up here right now is because I’m aware that the staff members with Barrington two two-twenty are not drug tested and there has been a lot of rumors going around about teachers that have been doing illegal drugs, not like marijuana, like cocaine and meth and stuff like that.

I mean, I been hearing it going around, and there’s been a lot of rumors and most districts drug test their staff members, and I think that’s very important because these/they’re the ones supervising the children, especially in the elementary school. That’s all I have to say.”

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of District 220, was asked if he had any comment before moving on. After rather long (and perhaps uncomfortable) pause, Harris stated:

Um…, Quickly…, you know there is no statutory retirement, um requirements of drug test staff, uh, except for buss drivers, AND we do drug tests on certain employees in the district that do drive our district vehicles. So, um, and it’s random, and it’s administered, so just so you’re aware.”

To view recording of the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, click here.

We don’t know if District 220 is prohibited from conducting drug testing due to the current teacher’s union contract(s). We don’t know if such testing is cost prohibitive (though it’s unlikely).

Whatever the reason, it’s inexcusable. We believe anyone employed by District 220 be subject to some form of drug testing, and the sooner this occurs, the better for all concerned.

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