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State Rep. David McSweeney

Some Illinois lawmakers want to get out in front of a civic group’s proposal to tax retirement income

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago recently proposed a plan to pay down Illinois’ underfunded pension debt and balance the budget through a number of tax hikes and revenue grabs that included classifying retirement and pension payouts as regular income. Illinois doesn’t tax retirement income.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, filed House Resolution 32 in attempt to forestall any bill that would tax such income. The bill, filed in January, says “we state our belief that the Illinois Income Tax Act should not be amended to permit taxing retirement income.”

Since the suggestion was made to tax retirement income, McSweeney’s measure has picked up sponsors Sam Yingling, Jonathan Carroll and Jerry Costello II, all Democrats, along with Plainfield Republican Mark Batinick.

Read more from the Illinois News Network here.

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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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Seven referendums will appear on Lake County ballots for this spring’s consolidated local election.   The proposals include funding requests for school construction, water system improvements and fire department vehicles.

Election Day is April 2. Voting by mail begins March 8.  Early voting begins March 18.  Here are the issues:

Barrington schools

Barrington Unit District 220 voters will decide whether the school board should borrow $185 million for a variety of facility improvements.

All District 220 schools would receive security boosts and basic improvements, such as bathroom repairs and heating and air conditioning system upgrades.

The plan also calls for a new fine arts center at Barrington High School and a library renovation there, among other projects.

If approved, the owner of a house valued at $500,000 would pay about $97 more in property taxes to the district the first year.

Read more here:

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“In order to inform the entire Barrington 220 community about the referendum question on the April 2, 2019 general election ballot, the Board of Education is holding 3 information sessions. All community members are encouraged to attend and ask questions. The agenda at all meetings will be the same.

  • Saturday, Feb. 23: 9am at Barrington High School (616 West Main Street, Barrington) 
  • Monday, March 4: 9:30am at BMS-Prairie (40 East Dundee Road, Barrington) 
  • Wednesday, March 6: 7pm at BMS-Station (215 South Eastern Avenue, Barrington) 

In addition, you can also visit the new referendum section of the Barrington 220 website. Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions, estimates on how the referendum may impact your taxes and specific plans for each Barrington 220 school.”

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Barrington Area Unit District 220 has a green light to pursue work on interior renovations at a vacant corporate building that’ll become its new administration headquarters on Main Street in the village.

As part of a package of other agenda items Monday night, the Barrington village board approved a special-use request so District 220 can operate in the 20,000-square-foot PepsiCo Inc. building at 515 W. Main, across the street from Barrington High School. The district approved construction bids expected to be about $1.7 million.

District 220 spent about $1.1 million last summer to buy the building that most recently was used for PepsiCo’s Gatorade division. The structure had a research-and-development zoning classification when it was sold, which is why the Barrington village board had to grant the special use for District 220 to operate the central office there.

Read more here.

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On December 28, a social media post invited residents to attend a hearing of the Barrington Hills Electoral Board scheduled for December 31 at 1:00 PM at Village Hall. The invitation emanated from a Facebook page and read:

I was served challenge papers to my petition for Trustee. The hearing is Monday at 1p.m at Vhall. Support me and condone this miscarriage of justice by this Administration! Shame! “ 

Linda H. Cools

The Facebook post was deleted within hours after publishing. However, the Village calendar confirmed the date and time of the hearing of the Electoral Board, which, as we later learned, was to review a complaint challenging the petition of trustee candidate, Linda H. Cools, due to alleged violations of election rules.

The complaint alleged Cools had turned in her petition with an excess of signatures over what is allowed on the nomination ballots and that her signed statement of economic interest was filed in the wrong county. It seems filing campaign paperwork that does not comply with Illinois statute was also the reason Cools was not on the ballot and could only run as a write-in candidate for trustee in 2017.

After the hearing began, Cools indicated she would like the opportunity to speak and to state her case. Village Counsel advised her that she first needed to be sworn in and Cools was sworn in by the Electoral Board’s official court reporter, taking an oath, declaring that her testimony would be truthful. Cools asked some preliminary questions of the Village Attorney and was reminded prior to giving her statement by the attorney that “all the statements that you make will be under oath and is considered testimony.” To which she responded: “Okay. Can I proceed? Do I have a time limit in how much time I can speak?”

The attorney responded she had no time limit but needed to keep her testimony relevant to the issues raised by the complaint. Cools then proceeded to give her testimony:

Electoral Board, my name is Linda H. Cools. I’m a resident candidate for Village trustee in the Village of Barrington Hills. Although I have not been properly served by the Sheriff of McHenry County as required based upon the requirements outlined by the State of Illinois Board of Election, proper service was not executed; therefore, the hearing should be dismissed solely upon that one singular fact. 

However, I intend to strenuously refute the objector’s petition regardless of this Board’s decision whether by appeal and presentation as part of the official public record.  

This is not an impartial, independent board but rather one with a vested interest in this outcome.   Nevertheless, I appear in good faith before you to present my oral argument against the objector’s petition.   I’m going to skip to the next page if you give me a second to do that. 

To summarize, there are four points I wish to put into the Village record. The first is the filing dates of the objector were not met per Illinois Election Guide. Point No. 2, service upon Candidate Linda H. Cools was improper and nonexistent at best.   Point No. 3, regarding the allegation of excessive signatures, candidate feels the objector is grasping at straws.   The objector does not adhere to the rule to quit counting once the minimum has been attained. And point No. 4, the ambiguity of where to file the statement of economic interest falls on the shoulders of the Village president/Electoral Board for clarity; and that is my final statement.”

Once Cools completed her testimony, the three members of the Electoral Board consisting of Village President Martin McLaughlin, President Pro-tem Colleen Konicek Hannigan and Village Clerk Nikki Panos, were allowed to ask question of Cools:

Konicek Hannigan: Ms. Cools, are you denying that you received service of the objection?

Cools: I was not aware of any service or any receipt of any service.

Konicek Hannigan: So you’ve never received a copy of the objection?

Cools: I have not.

Konicek Hannigan:   Then why are you here today?

Cools:  I received an email. I have an email notifying me from the grapevine that I was to appear here, but I did not receive anything in writing or any other information to come here to the Village. I have not received proper service.

Konicek Hannigan:  Okay. You’ve actually written in public blogs about having been served with an objection.

Cools:  What public blogs? I don’t run a public blog.

Konicek Hannigan:    On Facebook?

Cools:  I don’t run any public blog.

Konicek Hannigan:   On social media?

Cools:  I run no public blogs.

Konicek Hannigan:   On social media?

Cools: I don’t run any social blog, social media, print media, nothing.

Konicek Hannigan:       Okay. So the Facebook page Linda Cools for Barrington Hills Trustee is not your page?

Cools: I have no information to share on that.

Konicek Hannigan:    Okay. Are you denying that that’s your Facebook page?

Cools:  I have no information to share on that. 

The truth is there are a number of social media websites that contain Linda Cools’ name and photos portraying her image as pictured below in a recent Facebook posting that we captured a screenshot of:

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

(Since Cools testified under oath that she does not run any “social blog, social media, print media, nothing,” we strongly suggest she contact the proper authorities immediately and that she have these records copied for evidence before requesting they be removed by Facebook and Twitter.)

As for the two filing errors, the Electoral Board continued the hearing to January 8, 2019, and allowed the objector and respondent to file additional statements. At that hearing, the Electoral Board voted unanimously to allow Cools to amend her statement of economic interest, and held, on advice from the Village Attorney, that the excess number of petition signatures would not act as a bar to Cools’ being on the ballot, despite the fact that it was a clear violation of Illinois statutes and election rules. The Village Attorney referenced a federal court case that discussed striking a candidate for having excessive signatures as being unconstitutional. He also stated that there was a clear discrepancy in federal and state law and that Illinois case law favored striking her name from the ballot, but the U.S. Constitution was the law of the land. Still, this does not change the fact that statements were made by Cools, under oath, in a public forum while giving her testimony on December 31, 2018.

As a side note, someone once said the Illinois Board of Elections would likely approve a candidate’s paperwork if it was written in crayon. If this is true, given Ms. Cools’ problems completing paperwork accurately in two consecutive Village campaigns, she might be well advised to invest in a box of Crayola Crayons (preferably no more than 10 colors, PLEASE) the next time she must file for nomination in 2020.

It should be noted that some time after the December 30th hearing Cools retained an attorney who appeared on her behalf at the continued hearing of the Electoral Board on January 8, 2019.  At that time, prior to proceeding with argument, Cools’ attorney withdrew certain statements Cools made at the prior hearing to the effect that the Electoral Board was “not an impartial, independent board but rather one with a vested interest in this outcome.” Cools’ attorney agreed that there was no evidence to substantiate the comments, and Cools herself agreed on January 8th that she had nothing to support those statements and they would be withdrawn.

 

Related: “Barrington Hills candidate fights to stay on ballot

Barrington Hills trustee candidate survives effort to knock her off the ballot

 

 

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A candidate who filed to run for a seat on the Barrington Hills Village Board will remain on the ballot after a resident unsuccessfully challenged her nomination petition.

During a meeting Dec. 8, the Barrington Hills Electoral Board, which includes Village President Martin McLaughlin, Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan and Village Clerk Nikki Pano, voted to overturn two objections to Linda Cools’ candidacy made by Barrington Hills resident Arnold Cernik.  Cernik said Cools should be kicked off the April 2 ballot, alleging she included too many required signatures on her nomination petition and incorrectly filed her statement of economic interest in the wrong county.

Regarding the signatures, Cernik argued Cools violated Illinois law by exceeding the maximum number of signatures, which, he said, is guided by the total turnout of the previous village board election. He said candidates’ petition signatures cannot exceed 8 percent of the 1,066 votes that were cast in the 2017 election in Barrington Hills.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune here.

Editorial note: We will have more to report on the two meetings of the Electoral Board, including some fact-checking, later this month.

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