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Archive for the ‘Deception’ Category

Some Barrington Hills properties don’t just have numeric addresses. They come with charming names like “Serendipity” and “Hidden Pond Estate,” often seen on signs posted along village streets.

Concerned that proposed changes in a sign ordinance could force those markers to go away, some residents this week let elected officials know they want to keep that slice of Barrington Hills tradition.

But Village President Martin McLaughlin said those distressed about proposed amendments in the sign ordinance have it all wrong and their concerns are unfounded. He said the intent is not to get rid of property name signs but to tweak the dated ordinance so that those signs as they are can comply with local laws.

Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan said the village is trying to achieve a finely crafted sign ordinance that updates one that dates to 1963 and was last revised in 1977.

“For those who apparently are not aware, our current ordinance means that probably 90-some-odd percent of the signs that are currently existing are out of compliance,” Hannigan said.

Read more here.

Editorial note: We will publish a link to recordings from Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting soon.

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Paula Jacobsen

The latest Village newsletter came out recently, and it mentions the results of the latest Village annual audit among other things. The sound financial position of our Village is noted, but what is absent of any narrative is how earlier this year, first term trustee Paula Jacobsen caused a potentially damaging accusation that caused the auditor to investigate that accusation.

One question Jacobson was asked to answer during the audit was:

“In your opinion, are there any areas of operation of the Village that do not receive enough oversight of management or board, or any particular weaknesses in internal controls?” 

Jacobsen checked off “Yes.” As a Trustee, she could have taken the opportunity beforehand to gather specific information and to offer a detailed explanation or perhaps even actual facts, but instead submitted her vague audit questionnaire on March 17, 2019 (perhaps hoping to disrupt the April 2 election?).

Jacobson had a wealth of resources at her disposal for weeks before if she had any questions whatsoever on completing her forms from the audit firm. She could have easily gathered information from the Village Treasurer, Director of Administration, Clerk or even the Trustee assigned to Finance, but she did not avail herself of those ample opportunities according to recordings. She could have provided an answer to the question she was asked instead of repeating an anonymous rumor told to her by some residents.

Instead, when asked why she answered “Yes” to the audit question, her initial answer was:

“While I don’t know that it is considered fraud, but some residents have claimed that contracts are being given to certain members of family of the Board, however, that is not evidence of guilt. I don’t know that we have a clear process to evaluate this if in fact this is happening.   I’m not aware of any contract awarded to a Board member.” 

The first thought that came to our minds upon hearing this was that of an immature four-year-old who answers the question “why did you eat those cookies?” with, “Someone said I could.”

Though asked repeatedly, Jacobson would not, or more probably could not offer any specificity to her unsubstantiated allegation, and at times her answers to Trustees questions on her inexplicable answer changed from one minute or meeting month to another.

For example, before the auditor was asked to read back her answer to the question in the presence of the Board, Jacobsen denied checking the “Yes” box repeatedly. She also denied making any claim or charge of process or fraud issues, and she only began to recant her statements once the village president asked the auditor to read them into the record.

Jacobson also stated on more than one occasion that she understood that her responses to all audit questions were private and would be kept anonymous.   Those wishing to listen to the recording of this exchange can do so by clicking here.

She followed up at the June Board of Trustees meeting by reading a written statement that actually reversed her position in May. She stated she believes that fraud and processes have been violated at the Village, and further she made a secondary allegation that the auditing firm was not independent thereby impugning the reputation of the village treasurer, the independent auditor and the finance chairman Mr. Croll and the Village board.

If this sounds pathetic, it is, and it goes on (and on). Rather than continue with what is basically transcribing her lunacy from recordings, we have a better solution for all involved.

The solution to this problem will be for the village to spend further taxpayer dollars to “investigate” the rumor that someone repeated to Jacobson, and then hopefully follow that by providing educational information to Jacobson on the importance and serious nature of the annual financial audit so that in the future she may confidently answer the audit questionnaire with facts instead of vague, unfounded rumor.

-The Observer

Related: Flip, Flop: What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni, and Selman?  (August 30, 2011)

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In April of this year, the Village of Barrington released the results of a 16-item survey sent to 4,505 Barrington households. They received 1,111 responses (a 25% return rate), and we just got around to reviewing the information residents shared with the Village.

Of all the items Barrington included in their survey, one stood out in our eyes immediately as something our residents might find interesting. In question 12, respondents were asked to, “Select your top three (3) sources of information about Village news and activities,” as seen below:

(Click on image to enlarge)

Even with the option of selecting three (3) out of 12 options, the two choices were dead last were:

  • Village Board/Commission Meetings – 2.3%
  • Channel 4 – 3.3%

“Channel 4” in Barrington is a dedicated Comcast channel for all Village meetings. It essentially serves as a “Live Stream” service that two candidates were pitching heavily in the most recent Trustee elections.

Not only were “live streaming” of meetings of little interest to survey respondents, data kept on Village meetings dating back years demonstrate that people seldom looked at recordings of meetings after they’d occurred (the records can be viewed here).

On the bright side, we found little surprise that respondents preferred printed newsletters, emails and newspapers as their primary sources of information.

Further, last week the Barrington 220 Board of Education held two widely publicized meetings that were Live Streamed. Out of a potential audience in the tens of thousands in District 220, only one person tuned in to these streamed events outside of The Observer, and we suspect even that one participant may have been a 220 intern assigned to monitor the quality of the broadcast.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Based on the Village of Barrington and District 220 facts, no one in their right mind would continue to suggest that our Village invest in “Live Streaming” meetings with any expectation of return on investment.   But then again, what sane people suggesting this and other oddities have multiple Facebook pages (anonymous and named), multiple aliases they blog under and at times, post fictitious dialogs under their pseudonym’s hoping to inspire some form of coalition that never materializes.

Many readers may be surprised this goes on. Sadly, it does, especially every two years during election seasons.   

The full 2019 Barrington survey results can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Last week we reposted an article from the McHenry County Blog announcing, “Elaine Ramesh appointed to Algonquin Township Board”.

We omitted that a total 13 candidates filed for the position created when Melissa Victor stepped down according to the Blog (seeApplicants to Replace Melissa Victor as Algonquin Township Trustee“), and two of those candidates are Barrington Hills residents as seen below:

“Elaine Marie Ramesh, Barrington Hills, patent attorney, former BH Village Clerk and Trustee, member of the McHenry County Republican Women’s Club, member of McHenry County Conservation District Advisory Committee, equestrian advocate, raised $40,000 local private match to Federal Recreational Trails program grant to install a horse trailer parking lot to support five miles of multi-use trails. 

Linda H. Cools, Barrington Hills, Citizens Advisory Group for IDOT re widening of Route 62, advocates lowering the required bid level for Highway Department, advocates countering negative publicity, ran twice for the BH Village Board, advocate of transparency, records and posts BH Village Board meetings on Facebook, endorsed by BH Trustees Fritz Gohl and Robert Zubak.

Fritz Gohl is not a Barrington Hills trustee, although he was in some darker times in our past history. He is now in a paid position as trustee for Barrington Township (he ran unopposed) where he can inflict far less damage to the taxpayers of this Village than he did in his too many years on the Barrington Hills Board of Trustees.

Apparently, the resident who filed for consideration is not up on current events, or decided on their own that accurate facts should not matter in the trustee’s consideration. 

Robert Zubak

Our larger concern is the apparent endorsement by Trustee Robert Zubak of this resident’s filing to fill the vacancy (“apparent” due to the fact that the applicant has  “misstated” facts before).  If Zubak did endorse this applicant, does that imply an endorsement as a potential running mate in the 2021 Village Trustee elections?

Perhaps we’ll learn the answer at Monday evening’s Board of Trustees meeting. If not, only time will tell.

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Four years ago we asked readers of The Observer to trust our judgment when voting for 3 new trustees to be on our Village Board of Trustees (see Croll, Maison and Cecola for Barrington Hills Trustees).

In what turned out to be a hard fought, oft times contentious campaign, some may have thought we were asking for a leap of faith from our readers, and we continue to appreciate the confidence bestowed upon us by our readers. Though this year’s campaign is the quietest we’ve witnessed in 10 years, the stakes are no less high than they were four years ago.

Five residents are running for three seats on our Board of Trustees. Two residents are incumbent Trustees, one is a current member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the other two ran unsuccessfully for village positions in 2017.   Here are our thoughts on these five candidates:

Louis Iacovelli: Louis seems like an affable guy in the computer software business. His campaign website is well done, though it would be more suitable to have photo of a location in the Village on the home page and not unincorporated McHenry County.

We cannot support Louis candidacy for the simple reason his wife, Gigi Iacovelli, is the treasurer of the Barrington Hills Park District. Currently a candidate for election on the park board herself, she derives at least part of her income by providing lessons at the district. While this is not a direct conflict of interest, the potential for lack of objectivity may cause concern in a trustee position.

Linda H. Cools: Linda ran as a write-in candidate for trustee 2 years ago, and after two recent Board of Election hearings, she is running for trustee on the April 2nd ballot.

The best thing one can say about Linda is she will do anything to get elected. This was evidenced by the fact that she (‘misspoke’) under oath multiple times to the Village President, President Pro-Tem and the Deputy Village clerk (see Truth or consequences). We have no place in such a small village for unrepentant (misspeakers)!

Buettner

Debra Buettner: Debra had served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for nearly 4 years when President McLaughlin asked her to consider running for Trustee. When she asked if he needed her help, he replied “Yes.” And that’s why she’s running today.

Debra founded her law firm about the same time she moved to the village nearly thirty years ago.   She is a graduate of Barrington High School, and she has her CPA as well as a law degree. Her confident attitude and her experience on the Zoning Board warrant our endorsement for Board of Trustees.

Cecola

Brian D. Cecola: Brian became a Trustee in 2015 and was given responsibility for Roads and Bridges as well as Public Safety.   No one adequately prepared him for the conditions he would be inheriting, but as most residents now recognize, he was up for the challenge and then some.

Brian also graduated from Barrington High School and he also owns his own business. He and his wife, Stephanie, and their three children are active in the community, participating in the neighborhood clean up days and riding trail maintenance.

Brian is also very active in philanthropy, is President of the Lions Club, and helped found and run the Fourth of July tent and fireworks. Despite all this, when President McLaughlin asked him to serve another term, he agreed, and he has our wholehearted endorsement.

Bryan C. Croll: Bryan was also elected to the Board of Trustees in 2015. He has been in charge of monitoring the finances of the village with the day-to-day oversight Peggy Hirsch, Village Treasurer.   He and Peggy also keep track of police pension fund performance.

Bryan and his wife Josie have three children and he manages his family business remotely in Arizona.   He donates his spare time to causes such as Barrington Area Conservation Trust and the local riding club.

We had some concerns with Bryan’s willingness to work with others early on in his first term. We now are equally concerned with his motivations in seeking a second term, and this publication cannot in good conscience unreservedly endorse him.   

Overall endorsements: The Daily Herald, Village President Martin McLaughlin and President Pro-Tem Colleen Konicek Hannigan have endorsed Bryan Croll, Brian Cecola and Debra Buettner for Trustees of Barrington Hills.

Cecola and Buettner have the unconditional support of The Barrington Hills Observer. Both have demonstrated a passion for our Village and willingness to serve our community. Both display the honesty, dedication and sound judgement that will represent the residents of Barrington Hills admirably for the next four years.

Early voting ends today, April 1.  Election Day polls open tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM.

Please Vote!

 

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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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The Daily Herald publishes profiles of most people running for office. The following reflects the answers each of the five candidates supplied to questions be the Herald’s questions (click on the candidate’s name to read their responses):

Please take some time to review each candidate’s answers. Once again, the candidates names are listed above in the order they will appear on the ballot. 

The Observer will be providing more election coverage in the coming weeks for all area election, as well as our candidate endorsements.

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