Archive for the ‘OP/Ed’ Category

Brandon Johnson

The new mayor’s allies lay out their agenda: ‘First We Get the Money.’

Well, that didn’t take long. Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was inaugurated last week, and two days later his allies released a report with their agenda for the next four years. Title: “First We Get the Money.”

They mean your money. The report offers a flavor of the trend in Chicago politics and why the once-great city is struggling.

The report says a mere $12 billion in new spending will “make Chicago truly safe” by “addressing issues that underlie crime and poverty.” To get the cash, the mayor should collect $6.8 billion by “making the wealthy and corporations pay what they owe” and then cut spending on the Chicago Police Department.

Mr. Johnson has tried to distance himself from the report, but one gets the sense this is part of the choreography. The report’s creators, Action Center on Race & the Economy (Acre) and the People’s Unity Platform, helped Mr. Johnson win. Co-author Saqib Bhatti is on his transition team. Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates is on the Acre board.

The report suggests Mr. Johnson reinstate a “head tax” on business of $33 per employee. Chicago’s previous head tax of $4 per employee was ended in 2014 by the City Council under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called it a “job killer” and a deterrent to business hiring.

The mayor is also urged to raise the real-estate transfer tax on sales over $1 million by 1.9 percentage points from the current 0.75%. Progressives say most of the funds would come from “skyscrapers” and commercial properties. The Windy City has plenty of $1 million homeowners and it already has the second highest tax rates in the country on commercial properties worth $1 million, according to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Landlords with luxury apartments that are vacant should pay a fee to “encourage” them to “charge more affordable rents.” The authors want to raise the tax on jet fuel to force airlines to pay for “profiting from creating pollution in our city.” Then add a financial transactions tax for a cut of every trade at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

Read more of the Wall Street Journal Op/Ed piece here.

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With no real understanding what’s in it, so far not having seen even a draft, Illinois lawmakers will soon vote on a budget spending about $50 billion of your money.

This portion of Hanna Meisel’s Friday column from Capitol News Illinois is a must-read:

During House floor debate, Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, renewed his request for an estimate as to when a draft copy of the budget might drop – or at least a revenue estimate for the state’s fiscal year that begins July 1.

“You’re asking me?” replied Rep. Jay Hoffman, a Democrat from Swansea who was presiding over the House chamber at the time. Hoffman’s quip elicited laughs from members, and Keicher broke into a smile.

“Funny story,” Keicher responded. “After I made my inquiry last night, I had eight members of the other side of the aisle suggest to me that they hadn’t seen one either.”

The Republican superminority is routinely cut out from budget formation, but that’s a Democrat acknowledging that most of his party, too, is shut out.

And they laughed about it.

Read on here.

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VBH Bikes

The Summer of 2014…

From the Village of Barrington:

“May is National Bike Month, promoted by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try!

Bike Month 2023 will focus on individual and community well-being. Whether you’re riding for fun, fitness, or with family, or taking essential trips to work or shop, you are part of a movement for safer streets, connected communities, a healthier planet, and happier people.

SAVE THE DATE Bike to Work Week 2023 will take place May 15-21, 2023, and Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 19!

PLUS, did you know that you can easily locate bike racks and bike trails by using our Interactive Map at barrington-il.gov/i_want_to/view_interactive_map.php. Click on the “Bike Racks” and “Bikeways” layers to view.”

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Newly seated Board of Education member Diana Clopton and Nate Rouse, 220 Director of Equity, Race & Cultural Diversity Initiatives

As seen in our May 4th post, New Board of Education sworn into office, a recent FOIA has brought to light a series of emails between Nate Rouse (D220 Director of Equity, Race, and Cultural Diversity Initiatives), Melissa Atteberry (D220 5th Grade teacher and President of the D220 teacher’s union, BEA), and Diana Clopton, newly elected Board of Education (“BOE”) member, which took place in the months leading up to the recent school board election.

On the recommendation of current BOE member, Erin Chan Ding, Rouse reached out via his Barrington220 issued email address to recruit Clopton to run for BOE: “As you are aware we’ve got some political craziness going on and we are anticipating some strong opposition to equity work moving forward in the district without the support of a sound board of education.”

In order to facilitate Clopton’s placement on the BOE, Rouse offered to put Clopton in contact with “people that are very interested in getting behind/supporting good candidates and putting them in contact with the right people.”

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It is no secret that Rouse works closely with Jessica Green, founder of Courageous Community, an organization listed as a Community Partner on Rouse’s Equity220 website. Green hosted a “Meet the Candidate” fundraiser, exclusive to candidates  Clopton, Altschuler, and Collister-Lazzari, 3 of the 7 running for BOE in the recent election. Green is also a member of the Equity Committee run by Rouse, but closed to the D220 community, as only “those who support the mission” are allowed to participate. So much for Rouse’s DEI initiative “We Belong to Each Other” ~ it clearly should come with a disclaimer: We Belong to Each Other… but only if you’re the ‘right people.’2 Pic


Rouse took his support of Clopton running for BOE even further by connecting her with Melissa Atteberry. Atteberry is the current President of the Barrington Education Association (BEA), the D220 teacher’s union. Atteberry was very eager to meet with Clopton, “I would love to meet with you and learn more about your motivations, as well as goals for the district.”

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Clopton will be called upon to vote on the BEA Union contract. What influence does Atteberry hold over her in that regard. We know that Chan Ding took political donations from, as well as the endorsement of, the BEA two years ago when she ran for BOE.  This subjected her to much criticism. It appears from this election cycle that the BEA has found other ways to influence the BOE elections other than by making public endorsements and donations.

Rouse also took time away from his DEI work to meet Clopton for an extended lunch in Deer Park, where they apparently discussed her ability to combat the “political craziness” going on and the “strong opposition” to the equity work no one other than those deemed privileged enough by Rouse to serve on his private DEI Equity Committee Team know anything about.

Equity Team

Each of the meetings Rouse scheduled with Clopton were conducted on D220 time, on D220 email, and many on D220’s Zoom platform. As seen above, Rouse further orchestrated and participated in meetings between Clopton and BOE incumbent candidate Collister-Lazzari.

Collister-Lazarri and Superintendent Hunt made it very clear at the BOE meeting of September 20, 2022, that only people who “support the mission” would be welcome to participate on Rouses’s DEI Equity Team. The first Equity Committee meeting was reported on at this BOE meeting starting at 48:55, wherein Collister-Lazzari advised the meetings are “not open to the public” because, similar to the Safety & Security Committee, “there’s things that maybe the whole public shouldn’t be aware of.” When pushed as to how one might get involved, Chan Ding advised that administrators (i.e. Rouse) ask parents to be involved based on the ‘fit’ for that specific committee, to which Hunt reiterated, “you want people who support the mission of the work, obviously…” Those people are:


It is clear from these communications that we have a D220 Administrator actively seeking candidates for BOE that support his taxpayer paid position. A position that is closed off from public scrutiny and only available for his “District Equity Team” to be part of. He then puts said candidate in contact with the head of the BEA Teacher’s Union, on whose contract said candidate will soon be voting, as the BOE is currently involved in contract negotiations with the BEA. He then takes it one step further by offering to put said candidate in contact with community members that directly support his paid, closed to the public, District position.

Now, this may all be well and fine if Rouse and BEA President Atteberry offered to meet with all candidates running for BOE so they could share their goals for the District and what constitutes a “sound” BOE. However, Rouse was directly contacted by another candidate prior to the recent election, Leonard Munson, who requested a meeting with Rouse to learn more from him about the DEI programs and initiatives. Rouse refused to meet with Munson, stating his “admin team” has been advised to let D220 Superintendent Hunt know if any requests to meet are made from candidates and to refer requests to Hunt’s office as it was Hunt’s job to meet with candidates to discuss the District’s programs, “including our equity work.”


This should come as no surprise as Rouse has already decided that there are parents who are and who are not on the D220 “District Equity Team” and he has said so publicly, in BOE meetings and on his Twitter feed. Rouse clearly does not believe Munson “supports the mission” as he was denied any meeting with Rouse. Yet, the District emails indicate Rouse not only recruited Clopton, but met with her multiple times on the taxpayer’s dime. Is this Rouse’s idea of “equity”? The BOE candidates, parents and taxpayers of D220 deserve better.

Nate Tweet

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Barrington School District 220 hired longtime school administrator Nathaniel Rouse as the district’s first-ever director of equity, race and cultural diversity initiatives in August of 2020. Apparently, Rouse recruits Board of Education candidates HE (and presumably  his union) deems to be “sound” during school hours.

Posted Tuesday by CUSD 220:

“At the May 2 Barrington 220 Board of Education meeting, the new Board was sworn into office. New Board member Diana Clopton, along with re-elected Board members Barry Altshuler and Leah Collister-Lazzari, will all serve four-year terms on the Board.

Clopton and her husband moved to the Barrington area in 2011. They have two children who attend Prairie Campus and Station Campus. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign and a MBA from Northwestern University. Clopton currently works as an Associate Marketing Director at a bio-pharmaceutical company.”

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Blue TwitterBy Madison Malone Kircher

Social status

I got my verified Twitter check mark about eight years ago while working as a cub reporter at a digital news outlet. I did nothing to earn it other than show up to work one day and Oh, hey, would you look at that! I’m verified. Sweet!

(Technically, the check mark was white, surrounded by blue, but colloquially they’ve become known as blue checks and I’m not about to squabble over semantics now.)
It feels a little pathetic to reflect on how excited I was about getting a check mark, but that was still the era when digital journalism was fighting to be taken seriously. Getting that check, which denoted that Twitter had confirmed the identity of the account’s owner and operator, gave me credibility.
Last week, after much throat clearing, Twitter started removing the check marks from previously verified accounts whose users had declined to pay a fee — which was most of them. Now, anyone can be “verified” on Twitter. It’ll cost you $8 a month and comes with basically none of the usefulness that verification used to offer because Twitter is no longer confirming that people are who they say they are.
The change in verification is one of the most visible effects that Elon Musk has had on Twitter since he bought it last year. Information on the platform, once considered indispensable for following breaking news, has become increasingly unreliable. And for users who rely on Twitter to follow celebrities or other figures, the verification change is part of a shift that will make many prominent users less visible because they declined to pay to retain their check marks.
By the time Musk announced that all previously verified users would be losing their status, a blue check was nothing to be proud of. Some users are now calling it “the dreaded mark” or that “stinking badge,” my colleagues Callie Holtermann and Lora Kelley reported last week.
The icon makes its owner appear “desperate for validation,” according to the rapper Doja Cat. Twitter also restored blue checks for popular users who didn’t want them, including LeBron James, Bette Midler and Stephen King. The model and internet personality Chrissy Teigen called her blue check a form of “punishment.”
I would argue that the blue check was never as covetable as Musk thought it was. (He has called it a “lords & peasants system.”) For me and many other journalists, it was essentially just a tool to prove to sources I was who I said I was. No different than a press badge or a business card.
Why should anyone care about the check mark changes, especially if their job doesn’t involve sliding into DMs? Twitter’s check mark system wasn’t perfect, but it did make it easier for users to figure out if tweets were coming from a real person or organization, or from, say, an account pretending to be Eli Lilly and promising free insulin for all. (This really happened in November 2022, tanking the company’s stock.)
Now users will have to work harder to make sure people are who they purport to be. I can attest that it’s harder than it sounds.
But that’s not to say Musk’s new system isn’t useful in its own way. The new check marks have instead become an inversion of the old. If I see you have one, I immediately don’t care what you have to say.


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JB Shrug

“Sorry, Mr. Pritzker. The data is clear that Illinois and other states dominated by progressives are losing human talent in droves to better-governed states.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker shrugged last year after several high-profile corporations left his state. “Countless companies are choosing Illinois as their home,” Mr. Pritzker said. Then why does a new Internal Revenue Service report show an accelerating taxpayer exodus from Illinois and other high-tax states?

The IRS each spring publishes data on the movement of adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxpayers across state lines from year to year. Some Democratic Governors such as Mr. Pritzker claimed that the 2020 Census undercounted their state populations, but the IRS data shows blue states are losing taxpayers and income at an increasing clip. (See the nearby charts.)


The IRS data shows a net 105,000 people left Illinois in 2021, taking with them some $10.9 billion in AGI. That’s up from $8.5 billion in 2020 and $6 billion in 2019. New York’s income loss increased to $24.5 billion in 2021 from $19.5 billion in 2020 and $9 billion in 2019. California lost $29.1 billion in 2021, more than triple what it did in 2019.

By contrast, the lowest tax states added some $100 billion of income during the pandemic. Zero-income-tax Florida gained $39.2 billion—up from $23.7 billion in 2020 and $17.7 billion in 2019. About $9.8 billion of the total arrived from New York, $3.9 billion from Illinois, $3.7 billion from New Jersey and $3.5 billion from California.

Texas was another winner, attracting a net $10.9 billion in 2021, which follows a gain of $6.3 billion in 2020 and $4 billion in 2019. Californians represented more than half of Texas’s income gain in 2021. The Golden State also sent $4.4 billion to Nevada, $2.7 billion to Arizona and $2 billion to Washington. Nevada and Washington don’t tax wages, and Arizona is phasing out its income tax.

Illinois lost income to all of its neighboring states, but the biggest beneficiaries of its taxpayer flight were Florida, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin. Mr. Pritzker can’t blame lousy weather since it’s not exactly balmy in Kenosha. Billionaire Ken Griffin cited Chicago’s out-of-control crime last year as the reason he moved his hedge fund to Miami.

Read more of the Wall Street Journal article here.

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VBH Water

Fifty-eight percent of Illinois voters polled said their property taxes don’t provide enough value in public services. Illinoisans pay the second-highest property taxes in the nation.

new survey for the Illinois Policy Institute found 58% of Illinois voters polled don’t think the value of public services they receive are worth the property taxes they pay.

Illinoisans pay the second-highest property tax rates in the nation behind only New Jersey.

A University of Chicago study found Cook County property taxes are highly regressive because low-income communities can’t afford to appeal their property taxes, meaning they pay disproportionality more.

Property tax burdens affect renters, too, as landlords pass on property tax costs through rent. As a result, property taxes can significantly impact the affordability of housing for both homeowners and renters.

Funding for quality public services has suffered because of Illinois’ rampant pension growth, which crowds out funding for key services. Since 2000, pension spending is up 584% while vital services have suffered or dropped.

Affluent homeowners have a greater capacity to leave the state altogether. According to a United Van Lines survey of Illinois movers, those leaving Illinois made up 63% of total migration, the second highest in the nation behind New Jersey.

Read more here.

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220 Admin

A group of conservative challengers lost in the Barrington 220 school board race, which saw only a 17% voter turnout.

Katey Baldassano, one of the challengers, said the race decided the majority on the school board. Baldassano ran on a slate with Leonard Munson and Matt Sheriff, and they were hoping to tip the scales toward a conservative majority on the board.

“It was pretty consistently a 4-3 split on pretty much every issue,” Baldassano told Lake County Gazette. “But now it will be 5-2. So much more one way. If two of the people in my slate or a different challenger that was not on my seat had won, then there could have been a shift in the majority the other way.”

Baldassano said she thinks they “had a super strong core team and a super strong group of supporters.”

“It’s hard to imagine a group of candidates that did more to meet people and get our message out there than we did,” Baldassano said. “It would be really hard to imagine that. I guess at the end of the day, just the voter turnout was pretty abysmal across the state. And I guess based on the voters, the people who voted sent a message for what they want for our community and it wasn’t what we were pitching, even though we do think that more represent the community as a whole. But if the people don’t vote, then they can’t expect change. They are going to expect more of the same. Or things to get worse and that they’re going to get what they asked for.”

Baldassano’s slate is grateful to their supporters, and they hope “that people will keep speaking out for what they especially want for their own kids.”

“Because at the end of the day, the parents are the most important thing in raising their kids,” Baldassano said. “And if we aren’t happy, then we need to advocate for what’s best for our kids because they’re the ones that are the end user of the system and they deserve a really great education. I hope that people keep fighting for that.”

Read more here.

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2023 220Congratulations go to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Barrington Education Association – the ultimate winners in the 2023 CUSD 220 Board of Education elections.

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