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Archive for the ‘OP/Ed’ Category

Two candidates for trustee advocate “live steaming” (broadcasting) for Board of Trustee meetings as well as some committee and commission meetings. May be a good idea, but at what cost?

Barrington CUSD 220 has been streaming their board meetings for many years.   We’ve attended a few of those meetings, and there are usually at least two or more people working the camera(s), computer(s) and microphones.

Much time is spent setting up the equipment long before the start of each meeting, and then breaking down the setup afterwards.

Clearly, Village Hall meetings needn’t be this elaborate. Costs to live stream meetings have decreased given advances in technology, such as YouTube, but are they really cost effective? The answer is NO for our Village, and here’s why…

We’ve watched numerous District 220 meetings from the comfort of our homes using their YouTube channel. A counter on the screen indicates number of viewers at any given time, and that’s when the reality of true resident apathy hits home!

Approximately 9,000 students attend District 220 schools. Tens of thousands of potential viewers reside in communities from Tower Lakes to Hoffman Estates to Carpentersville to Deer Park and beyond, but for all that the District pays to live stream their meetings, can you guess how many viewers are actually tuned in? Nearly none!

We observed on average only 5-8 people watching a typical District 220 meeting. Chances were that   1/3 were students, 1/3 were reporters or salespeople and the rest too lazy to drive to the meeting. 5-8 people! (Imagine viewership in a community of only 4,200 residents – maybe 1 or 2 viewers for a meeting?)

Recordings are available on demand, so it is likely District 220 residents watch the meetings at their convenience, and as common sense might suggest, viewer totals per meeting may become more acceptable, but still not cost effective.

Barrington Hills has invested time and money in audio recording equipment to accommodate residents who cannot attend meetings. Recordings are usually available for review a few days after each meeting.

So, for those advocating live streaming meetings on the Village’s dime, we suggest a more cost effective alternative for those wanting the service.

Invest their own money for the ability to live stream meetings, and sell it to residents who wish to subscribe to your service. Chances are they won’t because they’d lose money from the start, which begs the question, why are they asking our Village to subsidize their personal (and likely selfish) needs?

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Bryan Croll, Debra A. Buettner and Brian D. Cecola

In keeping with what is becoming something of a tradition in otherwise bucolic Barrington Hills, voters are being treated to a feisty race for the village board in the April 2 election.

Three trustee seats are up for election, and cameras seem to be a campaign focus one way or another.

We did not endorse Cecola and Croll when they first ran in 2015, but they have delivered on their campaign promises. Spending has been cut as has the village property tax levy, and the village website has been improved.

We endorse them for re-election. Buettner is a potentially good teammate with sound judgment and experience. She wins our endorsement, too

Read the full Daily Herald endorsement here.

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Five candidates will be vying for three seats on our Village Board of Trustees in the April 2nd Barrington Hills election in a few short weeks.

The first campaign mailer arrived in residents’ mailboxes this week. The websites are up, and soon, signs will appear in neighbor’s yards asking would-be residents to vote for his or her candidate(s).

When it comes to websites, we thought we’d share three that have emerged for this year’s campaign. They are listed in the order candidates names as the appear on the ballot:

One Barrington Hills: Incumbent Trustees Bryan Croll and Brian Cecola will be running with Zoning Board member Debra Buettner. To learn more about their cause, their website can be viewed here.

Linda Cools 4 Trustee: Linda Cools ran for office two years ago as a write-in candidate. She is running independently, and her website can be viewed here.

Vote Louis: Louis Iacovelli campaigned for Village President two years ago. This time he’s running independently for Village Trustee, and his website can be viewed here.

Early voting begins on Monday, March 18th and runs through Election Day, April 2nd.

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Barrington Township Trustee Fritz Gohl

There’s new hope in Springfield for putting power into the hands of voters when it comes to controlling and trimming their governments.

At nearly 6,963 units, Illinois has more governmental bodies and bureaucracies than any other state in the nation. Texas and Pennsylvania are next, according to the website Governing and they have only 5,147 and 4,897, respectively.

And while there’s been some momentum in recent years around merging governments, streamlining and setting up processes for dissolving bodies like sanitary and mosquito abatement districts in Illinois, the processes largely have been complicated or left in the control of public officials — some of whom, obviously, have a self-interest in keeping governments operating and themselves employed.

Read more from the Chicago Sun-Times here.

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Season’s Greetings

This time of year, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the annual frenzy of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, door buster sales, and expedited shipping.  There are end-of-year work deadlines to meet, airline flights to schedule, Christmas cookies to bake, and school concerts and office parties to attend.  Mix in sore throats, sniffling noses, traffic snarls, winter storm warnings and black ice, and it might seem as though you have the perfect recipe for a holiday headache.

That’s why it is so important to stop and feel the wonder of the season.  Look all around and drink it in with all of your senses. There is the special soft glow of lights on the tree, the cat pawing at a low hanging ornament, the whistling winds outside and the sight of crisscrossing deer tracks in the snow.  The kids making a mess of the kitchen as they build a gingerbread house.  The family dog dozing by the fire. The crimson bows, the smell of evergreen boughs.  The warmth of family, the laughter of friends.  Remembering those who are gone.  Missing those who couldn’t be here.  The soaring voices of the church choir. The wide smiles on Christmas morning.

These are the simple joys. This is what makes memories.

Merry Christmas from the Observer!

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We are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2017 Shining Star Award — Barrington Hills Police Chief Richard Semelsberger. Chief Semelsberger epitomizes the very best in a public safety professional, and the residents of our village are very fortunate to have such a dedicated individual at the helm of our Police Department.

2017ShiningStar

Chief Semelsberger is well-known to many in the community, having started as a patrolman in 1989, and rising through the ranks over the last 28 years.  Having worked under four of the nine previous village chiefs of police, Rich became Deputy Chief in 2011, eventually becoming Chief of Police in March 2015, after the retirement of Chief Michael Murphy.

He is respected and well-liked by officers in his department, and works easily with our elected officials, village hall staff, and attorneys.  A familiar face to many, Rich is in attendance at each annual Hills Are Alive Heritage Fest, where he can be seen engaged in friendly conversation with village residents.

Over the years, Semelsberger has continually impressed us with his vast knowledge of the department’s operating budget during Board of Trustee meetings, always having the appropriate facts and figures when questioned by board members.  But what has been the most striking recently has been his active participation in many other discussions during Board Meetings.  Whether the topic was the somewhat controversial outsourcing of our 911 Dispatch services to QuadCom, or the purchase of a new phone system for the Village Hall, it was obvious that Semelsberger had studied the issues very carefully and had an intimate understanding of all of the pros and cons.

The Chief’s low-key yet highly effective style was most notably on display in early 2017 when he set the record straight on the many of facts surrounding the village’s CTY alert system, police staffing levels, and the false accusations of discontinuation of the police non-emergency number.  These issues had been raised during the months leading up to the April 2017 Election by the “Your Barrington Hills” slate and their supporters.  Despite the highly political atmosphere that had been created, Semelsberger calmly and clearly refuted the unfounded allegations one-by-one in a decidedly nonpartisan and straightforward manner that left little doubt what the facts were.  See these Observer articles for more detail: All the world’s a stageApril 24th Board meeting recordings released, and Regime revived?

Our village is indeed lucky to have such a fine man as Richard Semelsberger fully committed to serving and protecting our homes and families.  We commend the Chief for his leadership of our award-winning Police Department, and for making our community safe each and every day.  Thank you from the residents and from all of us at the Observer!

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The Spirit of the Season

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This time of year, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the annual frenzy of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, door buster sales, and expedited shipping.  There are end-of-year work deadlines to meet, airline flights to schedule, Christmas cookies to bake, and school concerts and office parties to attend.  Mix in sore throats, sniffling noses, traffic snarls, winter storm warnings and black ice, and it might seem as though you have the perfect recipe for a holiday headache.

That’s why it is so important to stop and feel the wonder of the season.  Look all around and drink it in with all of your senses. There is the special soft glow of lights on the tree, the cat pawing at a low hanging ornament, the whistling winds outside and the sight of crisscrossing deer tracks in the snow.  The kids making a mess of the kitchen as they build a gingerbread house.  The family dog dozing by the fire. The crimson bows, the smell of evergreen boughs.  The warmth of family, the laughter of friends.  Remembering those who are gone.  Missing those who couldn’t be here.  The soaring voices of the church choir. The wide smiles on Christmas morning.

These are the simple joys. This is what makes memories.

Merry Christmas from the Observer!

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