Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

MM McHenry

State Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, seated at the table, speaks to the McHenry County Board law and government committee Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.

McHenry County is currently the only county in Illinois where voters are allowed to vote to dissolve a township, but McHenry County Board members say the law has too many problems and needs changes.

Meeting Tuesday with each of the state lawmakers who represent parts of McHenry County, the County Board’s law and government committee asked the county’s lawmakers to change a law that allows only McHenry County voters to eliminate townships.

“We’d like to get our hands around either being free of this legislation or being a part of this legislation administered statewide,” said board member Jeff Thorsen, R-Crystal Lake.

The county wants lawmakers to take one of two courses of action on the law: either eliminate the law, so county voters can no longer vote to dissolve a township, or extend the law to all of Illinois’ other 101 counties.

No townships have been successfully dissolved by voters since the law was passed in 2019, but the constitutionality of the law has been the subject of lawsuits filed by Nunda and McHenry township road districts and several issues with the law were identified by County Board members.

The road districts argue state law prohibits legislation from only applying to a single county.

Board members said the law does not clarify how the county should absorb a township when it is dissolved.

Read more here.

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A Flock Safety license plate reader camera uses a proprietary algorithm to identify a license plate, vehicle make, type and color.

Lake County officials want to know more about how data is used before determining whether automatic license plate readers should be allowed on county-owned highway rights of way.

Members of the county board’s public works, transportation and planning committee agree high-speed cameras can help law enforcement but are wary of unintended consequences involving potential privacy issues.

“There are some concerns of who has access to this information and when,” said committee member John Wasik of Grayslake.

“Our responsibility is things are not always used as intended,” said committee member Ann Maine of Lincolnshire.

The high-speed, computer-controlled cameras capture license plate numbers, location, date and time, a photograph of the vehicle, the driver and/or passengers.

In early October, the county staff was directed to study the possibility of allowing readers to be installed along several county highways in Zion’s municipal limit. The city already has readers in its jurisdiction and wants to add more.

“The push to our community is to improve the safety of citizens by using technology,” Zion police Chief Eric Barden told the committee.

Several other communities also have notified the Lake County Division of Transportation they are considering using the readers, according to Shane Schneider, director of transportation and county engineer.

Read more here.

Related:Libertyville police planning license plate readers at five locations

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220 Propoganda

Last month, Barrington 220 was named, “a Top Workplace in Chicagoland,” by the Chicago Tribune.  The list of other honorees can be viewed here.

No other public or private schools or districts made the list this year, and this is the third time Barrington 220 has been selected by the Tribune.

What we want to know is what has Barrington 220 done to deserve this distinction?  We’re not knocking 220, but we’d really like to know the objective criteria used considering so many other suburban schools/districts are consistently ranked higher.

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220 11.16.2021

More than a dozen Barrington School District 220 parents and students urged school board members at the Nov. 16 Board of Education meeting to disregard the state’s mask mandate and make mask-wearing optional for students.

From elementary age to high school, a few students shared how the masks have been distracting in school, making it hard for them to breathe and learn. Students said they felt constricted, couldn’t see their teacher’s faces to learn a language or sing, and often couldn’t hear their teachers in class.

Parents questioned COVID-19 infection rate metrics and wondered out loud why Illinois is among states in the country still requiring masks. Many of the 16 people who commented during the public comment portion of the meeting recommended the board ignore the governor’s executive order and the Illinois State Board of Education’s mask mandates, suggesting there would not be consequences.

“Not being able to see my peers’ faces has put me at a disadvantage,” a Barrington High School senior told the board Nov. 16, adding he feels like he’s entering a “dark cloud” when he arrives at school.

The teen said he often meets with peers outside of school without masks and feels like he’s living in two different worlds.

“I feel like I have a muzzle on,” he said. “I’m here to implore you to have a mask option, freeing the students.”

Read more here.

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Toll Farce

Where did you go, toll collection machine? Probably in storage, after the Illinois tollway mothballed more than 100 units, which all told cost about $20 million to purchase and maintain.( Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer)

In roughly four years, a fleet of over 100 automatic payment machines along the Illinois tollway has sunk from essential tools to expensive white elephants.

The machines’ short but eventful lifetimes span two different tollway administrations under former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Their price tag is more than $20 million, split between purchase and maintenance costs.

Back in early 2017, the tollway board under Rauner decided to replace its aging coin buckets with “more technologically advanced automatic toll payment machines that will provide more payment options and better service to our customers,” spokesman Dan Rozek said at the time.

“The new ATPMs will cost less than $100,000 each and will offer more payment options than the current coin machines, which are at least 20 years old, accept only coins, and are difficult to repair because replacement parts have to be specially manufactured.”

Gradually the new machines popped up across the system from DeKalb to Oak Lawn. But not everyone was happy with the innovations.

In November 2019, the Daily Herald reported that 80 out of 110 machines installed did not provide change to drivers paying in cash. As a result, the agency was overpaid about $152,000.

The new team of tollway leaders appointed by Pritzker stood by the technology, noting that “the ATPMs operate reliably and function well in real-world conditions, with the machines as a whole remaining fully operational more than 99% of the time.”

Read more here.

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Toya Webb

Toya Webb

The Daily Herald has created a Diversity Advisory Panel to better represent our suburban mosaic and help us broaden our understanding and coverage of diverse communities.

Our inaugural group is made up of people from varying walks of life, ages, experiences, various ethnic, racial, religious, educational, professional and public service backgrounds.

As Diversity Editor, I will be leading this volunteer panel of advisers to help us identify what we do well and where we can improve in better representing the communities we serve.

The panel’s mission is to help the newsroom identify stories about underrepresented groups and to better reflect them in our coverage, keying in on the important issues affecting those communities, as well as to help monitor our coverage for matters of sensitivity and accuracy.

The 13-member panel will interact in private group conversations, giving feedback on various topics to the newspaper’s editorial staff.

Here are our advisers:

  • Toya Webb

Age: 42

Hometown: Barrington

Background/community involvement: Chief marketing and communications officer at Elgin Community College, certified life coach. Past or current member of: Diversity and Inclusion committee, Public Relations Society of America-Chicago; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, National Council for Marketing and Public Relations; ethics chair, Public Relations Society of America-Chicago; small group leader, Willow Creek Community Church; Elgin Community College Transition Academy youth mentor.

“Everybody has a story. However, not everyone sees themselves accurately represented in the stories that we tell. And these are not stories exclusively told by the media, but stories that we tell one another and even ourselves. As a former reporter, I understand the important role that journalism plays in informing and oftentimes influencing societal perceptions.”

Read about the 12 other Daily Herald advisors here.

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It’s been just over a year since four people were indicted in the ComEd bribery scheme to influence former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, but the matter is far from over and lawmakers have since passed limited reforms to curb corruption at the statehouse.

ComEd admitted the bribery scheme in the Summer of 2020. The company subsequently agreed to pay a $200 million fine and to cooperate with federal investigators.

Around a week before Thanksgiving last year, three former ComEd officials and a close Madigan confidant were indicted.

Madigan has not been charged with a crime, but he was labeled as “Public Official A” in the ComEd deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors. Madian was also the subject of a special House investigation. That committee released ComEd emails the day before Thanksgiving last year that referenced “our friend,” which was widely seen as a reference to Madigan. The House committee never subpoenaed Madigan to testify before concluding without any action. Madigan has denied wrongdoing. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said Madigan needs to answer questions about his actions.

In January, Madigan wasn’t reelected as Speaker, a seat he held for all but two years since 1983. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Democrat from Hillside, was elected Speaker. Madigan later stepped down from the office of state Representative before the end of his term and helped select his successor.

His former chief of staff and House clerk Tim Mapes was indicted in May.

The Chicago Tribune reported in August federal investigators continue to investigate, but offered no hints on new charges.

Read more here.

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220 7.13

At the often intense Barrington School District 220 school board meeting July 13, 2021, district parents and other stakeholders showed their support for the district not mandating students wear masks in school. (H. Rick Bamman / Pioneer Press)

The Illinois Association of School Boards voted Nov. 18 to terminate its membership with the National School Boards Association after the national group sent a letter calling on the Biden administration to investigate parents protesting at local school board meetings as domestic terrorists.

The letter sent Sept. 29 asked President Joe Biden whether confrontations of school board members by parents outraged over COVID-19 mask mandates and school curriculum constituted domestic terrorism under the Patriot Act.

“The decision follows previous attempts by IASB to initiate changes to the governance structure, transparency, and financial oversight of the national association,” a news release from IASB stated. “IASB suspended payment of dues to NSBA for 2021-2022 but continued to work to try to bring about needed changes.”

Since sending the controversial letter nearly two months ago, 26 state school board associations have chosen to distance themselves from the national education organization. As of Nov. 20, 15 of those states have discontinued membership or stopped paying dues to the NSBA.

“The Board recognizes the need for a healthy national organization that can provide training, federal advocacy, shared resources, and networking opportunities,” IASB said. “IASB communicated to NSBA that ‘IASB no longer believes that NSBA can fill this important role.’ In September NSBA sent a letter to President Biden calling for federal assistance, without knowledge or support of its state association members.”

Read more here.

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220 Admin

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the 220 Board heard a presentation about the tentative 2021 tax levy, which determines how much taxpayer money the district will receive in 2022. Barrington 220 collects property taxes from Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry Counties, and property taxes account for approximately 84% of the district’s annual operating revenues.

Each year the district requests a tax levy increase, in order to match the expenditure increases for cost-of-living increases, service and material increases, and other expenditure increases. If approved, the district expects to receive a 1.5% tax increase compared to last year, however it is requesting a 2.5% increase in the event new construction is larger than expected. Based upon projections, excluding bond and interest, the total expected tax revenue for 2021 is $132,396,948.

The next step in the tax levy approval process is a public hearing set for the Dec. 7 Board meeting. The Board is anticipated to approve the tax levy on Dec. 21. You can listen to the full presentation by clicking here.

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Debra Ann Buettner

Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of Barrington Hills Trustee Debra Ann Buettner, who died unexpectedly late last week at the age of 60.

Born in Elgin and raised in North Barrington, Buettner was a Barrington High School graduate who moved to Barrington Hills in 1991 with her husband, James Hammond.

Buettner was in her first term as a village trustee, bringing her professional experience as a tax and transactional attorney to that role, as well as in her prior position as an appointed member of the village’s zoning board of appeals.

Village President Brian Cecola reflected on her contributions to the community in a written statement.

“Deb has been a friend for a number of years,” Cecola said. “I personally got to know her in 2015 during my first election campaign for village trustee. I was elated when I learned Deb decided to run in 2019 for village trustee, as I knew she would make an excellent board member.”

The strengths she brought to her local government roles were personal as well as professional, he added.

“Deb was very detailed and knowledgeable,” Cecola said. “Her heart was with the residents. She was always willing to listen to people and constantly wore a smile. She will definitely be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, Jim, and her family,”

Read more here.

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