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Archive for the ‘OP/Ed’ Category

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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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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“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

— Winston Churchill

State Rep. David McSweeney, Barrington Hills

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, after signing the largest budget in Illinois history, declared that the Land of Lincoln is back, but he failed to complete the rest of that sentence. Illinois is back to the failed policies of more tax increases and out of control spending. Republican “leaders” who supported Pritzker’s big government fiscal policies should be ashamed of themselves. I voted an emphatic “no” on the Pritzker budget and tax increases.

The $40 billion Fiscal Year 2020 unbalanced budget that the governor signed contains more spending than the budget he originally proposed and includes no spending reforms. The budget also includes tax increases on health insurance and online purchases. The Illinois Constitution requires “appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.” The General Assembly did not pass a revenue estimate so this budget cannot be truly balanced. Also, overly optimistic revenue forecasts unrealistically assume that one-time revenue gains will be sustainable.

As egregious as the additional spending is, the real story of the 2019 spring session is taxes, taxes and more taxes. The progressive income tax constitutional amendment is the linchpin for massive future tax hikes and new state spending. Fortunately, voters will have the final say on the progressive income tax constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in the general election next year. I’m confident that 60% of Illinois voters will not support massive tax increases that will eventually hit the middle class. Do you really trust Illinois political insiders to set your tax rates under a progressive tax system?

Read the full David McSweeny opinion piece in the Daily Herald here.

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At its June 5 meeting, the District 220 Board of Education approved the purchase of the residential property located at 36 East Dundee Road, which sits between the Early Learning Center and BMS-Prairie.

The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District is selling the property to the district. BCFPD had proposed a fire station for the site, however the Cook County Board did not approve the proposal.

It’s reported that District 220 will be paying an estimated $562,800 for the 1,462 square foot ranch-style home built in 1955. Records indicate the roughly 1-acre parcel last sold for $500,000 in December of 2016 to the BCFPD.

“The district expects the land to be used to improve traffic flow and parking at the two campuses,” a recent 220 press release states. The way District 220 has been managed in recent years, we expect this will likely be over a million-dollar expenditure before it’s all said and done.

Related: County board denies plans to build fire station near two Barrington schools

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The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, the Des Plaines Theater in Des Plaines and the Catlow Theater in Barrington — three stately, downtown theater buildings that have been the focus of recent community efforts aiming to give them new leases on life.

All three date to the mid-1920s and each is at a different stage in its operation and development, but they share the common bond that people cared enough about their futures to commit the time, energy and dollars to help ensure they will be viable.

Those efforts and others elsewhere are important, because such buildings and their venues are treasures that are part of the very fabric and character that’s critical to making suburban downtowns vibrant places to visit for entertainment and commerce.

They are attractions that create foot traffic and keep money flowing to restaurants and other businesses.

The Catlow bills itself as the “heart of Barrington” and fans raised more than $100,000 in 2012 to fund a needed digital projector. This spring, in response to another cry for help from the theater’s owner, Barrington Cultural Commission members are suggesting events and looking for other ways to improve business at the old single-screen movie house. Among the ideas being floated is a “Sound of Music” singalong over Thanksgiving weekend.

Read the full Daily Herald editorial here.

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Memorial Day brings a special challenge to members of Barrington’s veterans organizations, for they are committed to visit every cemetery in the entire area where veterans are buried.

On that day, staring at 7:30 a.m. at White Memorial Cemetery on Cuba Road, elderly and middle-aged members of American Legion Post #158 and of VFW Post #7706 gather at the cemetery gates and march in carrying their colors and the Stars and Stripes.

Some have resurrected their uniforms from their service. Now the oldest might be from the Korean War.

A chaplain will offer some prayers and then a flag is placed on the grave of a veteran. Three of the company will step forward, prepare their arms and fire three volleys in salute.

An especially poignant moment is provided by two buglers, frequently students from Barrington High School, echoing each other from the east and west ends of the cemetery playing “Taps.” Sometimes the spring morning is also heralded by a flight of geese overhead, perhaps stirred by the firing of the salute.

Read more from the Barrington Courier-Review here.

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Many suburban school districts are fortunate to work with private foundations that help raise money for special projects and coordinate diverse volunteer programs. An effort under way in Barrington Area Unit District 220 calls attention to these efforts and demonstrates how creative and supportive communities can be in helping to meet the needs of their students.

The nonprofit Barrington 220 Foundation has announced it will provide a donation to support an outdoor science laboratory where students can work first-hand with scientific principles on a 67-acre conservation area across from Barrington High School. Our Robert Susnjara reported this week that the students will learn to monitor the health of streams, research soil composition and prairie habitat and study renewable resources.

Read the full Daily Herald editorial here.

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