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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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County Line Road 1

Road signs on Haegers Bend Road let drivers know which way to turn when driving in Barrington Hills or Algonquin.

The August Board of Trustees meeting was brief.  It lasted less than half an hour, but that was more than enough time to cause continued disappointment with the Cecola administration.

For example, why has the phone-in system to Board of Trustee meetings not yet been fixed yet?  Is it intentional to discourage resident’s attendance or does it just reflect incompetence on the part of those responsible for getting the job done?

Next, Laura Ekstrom, Roads & Bridges Committee Chair, provided an update on resurfacing work and detours taking place on, “Lake Cook Road,” in our Village. President Cecola, former committee chair, and Bryan Croll provided their perspectives on, “Lake Cook Road,” work.  The problem is, there is no road named, “Lake Cook,” in Barrington Hills.

County Line Road, named decades before Barrington Hills was incorporated, runs from Haegers Bend Road all the way to Hart Road. Trustee Riff, who actually lives on County Line Road, joined in the road work discussion yet made no effort to correct the record.  Given the fact he wrote on his Facebook site, “I was swarm into office as a Barrington Hills, Illinois Trustee,” he may not be as bright as some had hoped.

Some will say we’re picking at nits here.  But ask the employees or residents of the Barrington Hills Country Club, Countryside Elementary School or the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House what their address is, they will all say County Line Road. Other might say, “Come on, you know what they meant,” however, one must then question what else Trustees say versus what they meant.

The best point we can make in rebuttal is if you Google, “300 W. Lake Cook Road, Barrington Hills, IL,” instead of a map leading to Barrington Hills Country Club, you’ll see a map of downtown Buffalo Grove.

We elected Trustees relying on their intelligence and experience.  Live up to those expectations.

Recordings from the August 22nd Board of Trustees meeting can be found here.

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Can you Hear Me

Nope!

It’s been some time since we posted recordings from Board if Trustee meetings.  But considering it’s been some time since residents could phone in to meetings and actually hear anything remotely audible, we thought we’d go “old school” again.

Since it’s been nearly impossible to dial in to meetings to participate for months, the only conclusion we can arrive at is the Cecola admiration would rather we didn’t. As a result, no effort has been made to remedy the documented technology issues.  None.

The recording of the July 25th Board of Trustees meeting can be accessed here.

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Red

Barrington Hills First Lady and Village of Lakemoor Building Permit Coordinator, Stephanie Cecola, was seen running at the start of the 2nd annual, “The Land We Love Run,” earlier this month.

The Summer 2022 edition of the Village Newsletter was recently released. Topics covered include:

  • President’s letter
  • 2nd Annual “The Land We Love Run” recap*
  • Horizon Farm public meeting
  • Tornado preparation tips
  • Donlea Road drainage update
  • Crime prevention, and
  • Pointers on whether permits are required for landscaping or earth moving

A copy can be viewed and downloaded here.

* Event participant results (no First Lady listed??), by category, can be found here.

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BACT Officers

Barrington Area Conservation Trust officers

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • [Vote] Appointment: Matthew Vondra, Plan Commission Chairman Term as Chair expires 04/2023
  • [Vote] A Resolution of Proclamation Appreciating Doctor Pamela Cools for Years of Dedicated Service Resolution 22 –
  • The Land We Love Run Summary

A brief statement of Matthew Vondra’s qualifications for consideration can be viewed here. Without too much detail, we’ll expound on his experience a bit.

Matt is currently Vice President of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT).  Their President is Brian Croll, who is also a Trustee of the Village of Barrington Hills. The BACT Treasurer is Loren Ekstrom, the husband of Village of Barrington Hills Trustee Laura Ekstrom.

The BACT is responsible for, “…creating the largest permanent land preservation easement in the state of Illinois,” known as Horizon Farm, which is now owned and managed under that easement by the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

Note: For the third month in a row, it’s unknown if the telephony issues that have plagued recent meetings have been remedied yet, so callers might encounter issues again.

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BGA_Logo_WithTag_typeUnder_Final-10

City Council passage of improvements to Chicago’s government ethics ordinance is a welcome step toward reform–with more work yet ahead, the Better Government Association said Wednesday. The research and policy arm of the 99-year old civic watchdog organization assisted Ald. Michele Smith and the city’s Board of Ethics in drafting the reform measure.

Among other changes, the new ordinance:

  • Broadens campaign finance restrictions on city contractors to include contractors for sister agencies such as the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools
  • Strengthens conflict of interest provisions to prohibit city employees from exercising official powers on behalf of a relative, spouse, or domestic partner
  • Prohibits lobbying on the floor of City Council, including by prior members of Council
  • Requires specific and complete disclosure of the conflict of interest in cases where members of City Council recuse themselves from a vote due to conflict of interest
  • Expands conflict of interest provisions to cover all city officers.
  • Requires independent contractors who work for City Council or its committees to complete required ethics training and file annual financial interest statements, including a record of which committees or other bodies they contract with.
  • Strengthens fines for ethics violations, including granting the Board of Ethics the ability to levy fines equal to the value of any monetary gain from wrongdoing.

“Passage of this ordinance is important for the city, and it’s important for voters and other residents who have a right to expect honest, transparent government,” said David Greising, president of the Better Government Association.

Read the full statement here.

Note: A keyword search for “ethics” on our Village Code web page resulted in “No Matching Records” as seen below:

Capture

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BC 2

Brian Cecola

Three weeks ago, we ended an editorial (“Meanwhile, One Barrington Hills makes amends, extinguishes website and turns the volume down”) with the following:

“And just last month, residents reported they couldn’t hear April’s Board of Trustees meeting due to low or no volume when they phoned in, so what are they to make of this?

If the OBH party is sending a less than subtle message to residents, consider it received, Brian, David, Laura, and Tom.  But you’re in for a LONG three (3) more years in office.”

Monday, residents who dialed the number to connect to the May Board of Trustees meeting heard the usual:

”Welcome to My One Number.  If you are the host, press star now.  Otherwise please wait and you will be joined into the conference.”

After some time passed, the message changed to indicate the conference had begun, but beyond that there was nothing but silence. The frustrated residents who took time to listen in were left to question what went wrong (again) or was it their error.  The made no error.

We know President Cecola reads The Observer, so he was aware of the telephony issues weeks ago.  But apparently, he is just too busy to address a documented issue that negatively reflects on both him and his administration. Or, he simply doesn’t care.

The question now is what other issues is he too busy to address or not care about? The way things are recently, we’ll be the last to know.

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madigan-bribery-768x576

Ethics reform advocates say they’re disappointed but not surprised little was done during the Illinois legislature’s spring session to curry the public’s trust, even as former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s indictment in March put public corruption back in the spotlight.

But they still hold out hope for the future.

“You would think after what we saw with former Speaker Mike Madigan, there would be a fire under legislators … especially with an election coming up,” Bryan Zarou, director of policy for the Better Government Association, said regarding the inaction on ethics reform.

The BGA plans a new push for ethics reform this summer, with a set of proposals to be considered for the 2023 legislative session.

The subject will soon be brought to the forefront of public attention again, with former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton’s sentencing scheduled for June 21 and Madigan’s next status hearing set for Aug. 2.

Cullerton, a Democrat from Villa Park, pleaded guilty March 8 to a federal embezzlement charge for receiving nearly $250,000 in pay and benefits from the Teamsters union without working for it.

Madigan, once the most powerful politician in Illinois, was indicted on charges of racketeering and bribery and accused of running a “criminal enterprise.” He has pleaded not guilty.

Read more here.

Related:Kane County officials at odds over hiring of IT director’s wife

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Scranton,,Pa,,Usa,-,August,15,,2016:,Vice,President,Joe

By Greg Ganske

May 15, 2022

Before I retired from reconstructive surgery, I cared for toddlers who bit into electrical cords and burned their lips. Maybe that is why I feel like I am bound in a chair, gagged, arms and legs tied, watching a two-year-old chewing through a plugged-in electrical cord when I watch the nightly news.

I see one Biden disaster after another on TV and feel as if I am helplessly waiting for the next to occur. Just when it seems it can’t get worse, something even more worrisome, and in some cases more absurd, happens on the national and international stage.

It starts with the failing mental acuity of President Biden. A year ago, I wrote a column for the Des Moines Register (Opinion: Joe Biden isn’t the person I knew in Congress. He should get cognitive testing, with the result made public.), on Biden’s failing cognition. Sadly, his gibberish has gotten worse.

Recently President Biden spoke about his administration’s request to Congress for additional Ukrainian aid. The president’s inability to even read his teleprompter causes the White House to alter the official transcripts of his word mishmashes.

Biden said the plan would “enhance our underlying effort to accommodate the Russian oligarchs. . .”   Accommodate! Then a weird laugh, “We’re gonna accommodate them.” Then he couldn’t pronounce kleptocrats, “Klep–the guys who are in the kleptocracies. Ha, ha, ha,” accenting the laughs.

The White House official version substituted “hold accountable” for “accommodate.”   Correcting these gaffes is a full-time job at the White House. Last month in talking about lower gas prices, Biden said solar, or heat pumps could “save you $500 per month.” This, too, had to be cleaned up in the official transcripts as it is false.

We watch President Biden with trepidation wondering when he’s next going to bite into the electrical cord.

Read more here.

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OBH

Readers may recall we twice bumped the One Barrington Hills (OBH) committee (Brian Cecola, David Riff, Laura Ekstrom and Tom Strauss) pretty hard when they were delinquent in two consecutive filings required be the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE):

We decided to check in on the committee’s 2022 first quarter reporting (or lack thereof in recent history), and we discovered some very hurried fillings by OBH occurred after our second delinquency post.  The last of those ISBE postings was a long overdue final report submitted and filed by OBH on January 26th, thereby closing their account.

From the time OBH filed their Statement of Organization on February 9th, 2021, to when they submitted their Final Report on January 26th, 2022, they had posted:

  • Two A-1 reports of contributions of $1,000 or more
  • Two D-2 Quarterly reports submitted on time
  • Two D-2 Quarterly reports submitted after the deadline
  • Eight (8) D-2 Quarterly reports submitted with corrections

To view and print a copy of these reports, click here.

Having closed that error fraught chapter in their 2021 campaign, the One Barrington Hills committee expunged all records on their campaign website.  When visiting the former OBH website (click here to attempt), a message appears, either “Warning: Potential Security Risk Ahead” or “This connection is untrusted”.  To view the report, the user must tap, “Accept the Risk and Continue” or “Proceed to (unsafe) site.” Is stonewalling now their new norm?

And just last month, residents reported they couldn’t hear April’s Board of Trustees meeting due to low or no volume when they phoned in, so what are they to make of this?

If the OBH party is sending a less than subtle message to residents, consider it received, Brian, David, Laura, and Tom.  But you’re in for a LONG three (3) more years in office.

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