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ethics

Last Winter, the Village of Lake Barrington published the following in their seasonal newsletter:

Lake Barrington’s Ethics Commission

Did you know that the Village has an Ethics Commission? The independent commission adds to the overall transparency of our government and serves to investigate complaints alleging violations of the Ethics Chapter of the Village Code. We are proud to report that this 3-member Commission has never once had to meet regarding a violation!”

Their Municipal Code actually devotes a chapter to ethics, and the main page of their website contains a link to, “Report a Concern.”

As previously chronicled in this publication, if one searches our Village Code, keying in the word “ethics,” the result reads, “No Matches Found.”

Our Village needs an Ethics Commission.  How else could parties involved in complaints present their respective cases to determine if ethics violations did, or did not, occur? Listed below are typical practices that might arise in our Village, and in our opinion, may warrant investigation, understanding that there are no implications as to guilt or innocence of any on the list:

  • Should expensive legal battles, possibly precipitated by actions of elected and appointed Village officials, be investigated?
  • Should the hiring and retention of Village paid staff positions by elected family members be investigated?
  • Should contracts with vendors who maintain personal and professional relationships with elected Village officials and their families be investigated?
  • Should the solicitations of funds and hand selection of vendors by family members or close friends of elected Village officials, absent oversight by appointed Village committees, be investigated?

For these and other reasons, our Village needs to appoint an Ethics Commission to act as ombudsmen, when any question of potential maladministration or ethics violations is considered or occurs.

Candidates for this proposed commission could come from existing appointed Village bodies, ones whose objectivity would be unquestioned.

The perfect candidates for this roll are the incumbent members of the Board of Heath.  They are highly qualified, underutilized, and would prove to be an effective force in maintaining ethical governance of the Village of Barrington Hills.

Related:Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 1),” “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 2),” “Better Government Association Commends Passage of Chicago Ethics Ordinance–Sees More to Do,” “What happened to ethics reform in Illinois government? Why watchdogs have some hope,” “Meanwhile, One Barrington Hills makes amends, extinguishes website and turns the volume down,” “Learn from your (big) mistake, Laura, Bryan, Dave and Tom,” “Agreed

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Christmas Taxes

Happy holidays, Cook County homeowners! The second installment of your property tax bills will arrive around Thanksgiving. They won’t be due until after Christmas but before New Year’s.

Cook County residents can expect their property tax bills to arrive around Thanksgiving with an estimated return date of Dec. 31, 2022, leaving just enough time for Illinoisans to claim federal deductions, a county spokesperson said.

The second installment of property taxes will likely be mail out more than three months after the bill typically comes due Aug. 1. The delay follows a flood of new appeals and computer complications at the assessor’s office.

Cook County Board spokesman Nick Shields on Sept. 26 said the more than $16 billion in backlogged bills will be collected by “the end of 2022.”

“As each step in the process is completed, we will better understand the bill’s mail date and, subsequently, the due date,” Shields told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We remain confident that their commitment to a due date of 2022 will be realized.”

County leaders said appealing, reviewing and mailing these bills to homeowners could still take more than a month to complete as the county assessor finishes final appeals. Taxpayers will then have a minimum of 30 days to pay once their bill is received.

Issuing these property taxes in late November leaves Cook County homeowners with little more than a month to pay the taxes and claim the local deductions on their 2022 individual federal tax returns.

Second installments were paid by Aug. 1 in every year since 2011, until the onset of the pandemic. The first installment of property tax bills in 2023 is expected to be due March 1.

Illinois was home to the nation’s second-highest property taxes in 2021. Now rampant inflation is giving local taxing bodies the power to raise rates by 5%.

Property owners face another tax threat on Nov. 8: Amendment 1.

Read more here.

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FP Tax Hike

Cook County property owners would be asked to pay about “$1.50 more a month in taxes” toward the preserves, which became a haven during the pandemic

A referendum on the ballot this November will ask Cook County voters for a property tax hike to support and grow the county’s vast forest preserves.

The referendum in the Nov. 8 general election would ask property owners to contribute on average about $1.50 more in property taxes per month toward the preserves, or around $20 a year. About $3 to $4 of a homeowner’s current property tax already goes to the forest preserves each month.

The question before voters comes as the forest preserves became a haven of green space during the pandemic. The number of visitors skyrocketed as people sought a respite from sickness, isolation and boredom. The county’s forest preserves are one of the largest in the U.S., with nearly 70,000 acres of natural areas where people can hike, fish, bike, camp and even zipline. There are nature centers, and a massive set of stairs where exercisers flock that take your breath away.

“If there is a silver lining in a really difficult time for everybody, it’s that people were able to get out and rediscover nature,” said Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

County officials and more than 150 organizations also tout the environmental benefits of the preserves, such as absorbing rainwater during storms and creating cleaner air.

Jean Franczyk, president and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden, which sits on forest preserve district land, lays out what’s at stake: “A set of green lungs for the region.”

If approved, officials estimate the tax increase would generate just over $40 million in additional funding a year. They say the extra cash would help the county address ambitious goals, like acquiring nearly 3,000 additional acres to protect it from development, restoring some 20,000 more acres over the next 20 years and paying for workers’ pensions.

Read more here.

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52

State Representative Martin McLaughlin and Mary Morgan

The League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area will host the first in a series of upcoming nonpartisan candidate forums for Illinois House District 52 at 7 PM Monday, October 3rd.

The newly drawn 52nd District includes Algonquin, the Barrington area, Fox River Grove, Inverness, Island Lake, Volo, Wauconda, and western portions of Libertyville and Mundelein.

Incumbent Republican state Rep. Martin McLaughlin faces Democratic challenger Mary Morgan in the November 8th election.

To register in advance for Zoom link to view the forum, visit https://balibrary.librarycalendar.com/event/candidate-forum-illinois-house-52nd-district.

All candidate forums are run by trained moderators, who are members of the league and do not live or vote in the districts for which they are moderating the forum. Equal time is given to all candidates to answer each question. The candidates will have two minutes to present an opening statement, in turn, by number drawn. All LWPA Candidate Forums will be recorded and made available on its website for voters to view later.

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Coyote

This coyote is recovering at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington after being struck by a car, lodged in its grille and dragged early Sunday morning. (Courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation)

A coyote that was struck by a vehicle, dragged across pavement and trapped for more than two hours in the car’s grille may survive its injuries after being freed by Lake County officials Sunday morning.

The coyote’s rear right foot was mangled after it was dragged across the pavement, but those taking care of him remain hopeful he’ll pull through.

“He is missing parts of his toes, but shockingly he has no broken legs,” said Dawn Keller Monday afternoon. “He is on pain meds, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and vitamin shots. And we’re using other products to try to stave off infection and keep him comfortable.”

Keller, the founder and director of Barrington-based Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation, said Lake County officials told her the coyote was struck by the car around 5 a.m.

Keller said the driver of the car knew an animal was hit but the driver decided not to stop and investigate, and upon returning home did not take a look at the front of the car to see if it had been damaged by hitting the animal.

Had the driver looked, the coyote would have been seen pinned into the car’s grille but still holding on to life.

Instead, it was a neighbor who noticed the suffering coyote and alerted authorities, who arrived at around 7:30 a.m., Keller said.

Read more here.

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220 Books

Just last week in Barrington, the school board voted to keep “Flame” and “This Book Is Gay,” two books about gender and sexuality. In a 4-3 vote, the board ultimately accepted a recommendation by a school advisory committee of experts to keep the books after determining they didn’t meet the standard for obscenity and pornography.

A glass shelf displaying some of the most notable challenged books in the country adorns the entryway of the Chicago Public Library’s Lincoln Belmont branch. The books are surrounded by yellow tape and red signs that inevitably steer the attention of those who walk inside to the titles that have been banned, or attempted to be banned, in other libraries across the country.

But instead of taking the books off the shelves, visitors at the library were invited — in celebration of Banned Book Week 2022 — to learn about each one of them and encourage discussions about the topics for which they were banned. City Lit Theater Company joined the efforts by presenting a theatrical display of iconic banned and challenged books, allowing people to make their own decision on whether to read them.

Last week, city and Chicago Public Library officials declared Chicago a sanctuary city for those stories, by establishing “Book Sanctuaries” across the city’s 77 distinct community areas and 81 library branches. That entails a commitment to expand local access to banned or challenged books through library programming.

Meanwhile, attempts to ban books across the country — including in suburban Illinois — are escalating at a rate never seen since the American Library Association began tracking data more than 20 years ago, according its most recent report.

Just last week in Barrington, the school board voted to keep “Flame” and “This Book Is Gay,” two books about gender and sexuality.

In a 4-3 vote, the board ultimately accepted a recommendation by a school advisory committee of experts to keep the books after determining they didn’t meet the standard for obscenity and pornography.

Erin Chan Ding, a board member, said the removal of the books could potentially impact young people that could identify as LGBTQ students. And though the books may have strong imagery and words, it should be up to parents if their children read them.

In August, Barrington school board members also voted to keep “Gender Queer” in the Barrington High School library.

“We’re making these books available, but we’re not actively incorporating the books that were challenged into the curriculum,” said Chan Ding, a mother to an eight and a fourth grader.

As a mother, she said, she understands that some parents question the books and want to prevent access to them. “I have empathy for parents who disagree with our decision and I acknowledge and fully recognize that there’s a full spectrum of opinions. … It is a parent’s responsibility and role to do what is best for their own child but that doesn’t mean restricting access to other people.”

Read more here.

Related: District 220 posts April 2023 Election Candidate’s Guide,District 220 Board of Education meets tonight

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Election Illinois Voting

Passage of Amendment 1, on the November ballot, would put Illinoisans’ pocketbooks at risk of another hit during a time when it is already difficult to make ends meet.

You may wonder why anyone would be against the proposed change to the Illinois Constitution at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot that proponents call the “Workers’ Rights Amendment.”

Don’t ask me — ask Deb Cohorst.

Cohorst is a mother, grandmother, retiree and resident of Effingham, Illinois. For now. If the deceptively dubbed “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” or Amendment 1, passes, Cohorst might be forced to leave the state she has called home for almost 40 years.

“My husband and I really don’t want to leave, but we may not have a choice,” Cohorst said. “This amendment would be devastating to not only my family but any family.”

Why? Amendment 1 is a potential property tax hike in disguise that could hurt low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes. In a state that leads the nation in foreclosures, homeowners can’t afford higher costs.

Amendment 1 would allow government union bosses to collectively bargain over new, broad contract topics such as “economic welfare,” which could include anything from affordable housing to preventing advancements in technology. The more subjects available for government unions to bargain over and the longer negotiations take, the greater the potential cost to all Illinois workers — which would be reflected in higher property tax bills.

In Cook County, the median homeowner could pay at least an additional $2,935 in property taxes during the next four years if voters approve Amendment 1. In Cohorst’s home of Effingham County, property taxes on the typical home would rise by $743.

Property taxes already eat up approximately 7% of Cohorst’s fixed income. Increases make life in Illinois less feasible for her family.

“It scares me we may have to move,” she said. “I have friends in neighboring states, and they cannot believe what we’re paying in property taxes. I am paying more for the property tax on my half-acre lot than my three out-of-state friends’ property taxes combined.”

Read the full Chicago Sun*Times opinion here.

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2023 Seats Up For Reelection

Angela Wilcox, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler

District 220 has posted an Election Guide on their website for those considering running for three seats on the Board of Education in April, 2023.  Current board members whose terms end in April are Angela Wilcox, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler.

Angela Wilcox was elected to the Board of Education in 2015, and has provided exemplary service to the 220 community.  Should she run for a third term, there is absolutely no question she would have our endorsement.  However, as a Barrington Hills resident, we would like her to consider running for our Board of Trustees instead.

Wilcox has always provided well considered reasoning and discourse in her role on the Board of Education, which would be a welcome addition to the BOT. Further, it’s always been helpful to have an actively practicing attorney on the Board of Trustees.

Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler were elected in 2019.

The 2023 Election Guide can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Polo Development

Naperville’s planning and zoning Commission recommended the city council approve a proposal to annex 110 acres at the Naperville Polo Club, located at the northeast corner of 119th Street and Route 59, for a 401-home subdivision.

A Naperville commission is recommending the city council approve a plan to annex land at the Naperville Polo Club and develop it into a residential subdivision.

A representative from Pulte Home Co. detailed the proposal at Wednesday’s planning and zoning commission meeting to build 252 single-family houses and 149 townhouses on the property located at the northeast corner of 119th Street and Route 59.

As part of the project, Naperville officials would need to annex the parcel that’s currently in unincorporated Will County.

Despite concerns from nearby residents about home density and added congestion on 119th Street, commissioners unanimously recommended the plan to the city council.

“I think we’ve done, at this point in time, just about everything we could possibly do to put the best possible plan for Polo Club before you,” Russell Whitaker, the attorney representing Pulte, told the commissioners.

The proposal includes 38% of open space, land donated to the Naperville Park District, two multipurpose athletic fields and a stormwater management area donated to Will County Forest Preserve District, according to Whitaker.

Pulte would build four different home styles at differing price points, including a percentage of affordable housing dedicated to households earning $100,000 to $125,000 a year. Those homes would cost $352,000 to $440,000.

Read more here.

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Booz

“The Barrington Wine Walk offers an opportunity to sample different wines while browsing the shops of the village’s downtown from 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8.

Tickets, $30 per person, include access to a sample pour at each merchant location, souvenir wineglass, a map of the wine-tasting locations, and a list to check off each tasting sample. Participants must be 21 or older and present valid identification.

Check-in begins at 2 p.m. at Neoteca, 130 S. Hough St. in Barrington. Tickets are limited and sell out quickly; visit www.barringtonchamber.com.

Participating businesses include: Anderson’s Candy Shop, Angelina, Barrington Flower Shop, Barrington’s White House, Edyta Fine Art and Design, Estate Jewelers LTD, Fancy Art, N.F.P., Flesk Brewing Co., Kamala’s Own Perfumery, Kate Marker Home, Long & Co. Jewelers, M.J. Miller & Co., Inc., Marvin’s Toy Store, McGonigal’s Pub, Moretti’s Barrington, One Girl, Savvy Spirit Women’s Clothing & Accessories, Shirley’s Piano Bar, Skin Wellness by Renee, Tootsies Women’s & Children’s Shoes and Vin Chicago.

The event will be held rain or shine. Ticket sales are final and support small businesses in our community. All sampling must take place inside merchant locations. This event will be conducted with COVID-conscious safety measures in place, and by process of attending this event, participants are confirming they are free of COVID symptoms.

The event is sponsored by The Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Barrington. For details, call (847) 381-2525 or visit www.BarringtonChamber.com.”

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