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Archive for the ‘Deception’ Category

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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9.22 BOT

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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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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51-Burkes

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke will retire Nov. 30, allowing her replacement to be appointed rather than elected. Her husband, Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, faces reelection in February and a corruption trial in late 2023.

Anne Burke’s term as Illinois Supreme Court chief justice ends Oct. 25 and then she’ll retire Nov. 30, with six years left on her term.

Justice Joy Cunningham was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Burke, according to the Illinois Supreme Court. Cunningham’s term begins Dec. 1 and runs through 2024, giving her two years on the high court before she faces election.

Illinois is one of only two states allowing their supreme courts to appoint interim judges, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Of the seven justices on the Illinois Supreme Court, six were appointed before their first elections.

Burke’s retirement will still involve legal proceedings as her husband faces a federal racketeering trial. Anne Burke is married to the longest-serving alderman in Chicago’s history, Ward 14 Ald. Ed Burke, who’s been in office since 1969. His trial is set for Nov. 6, 2023, but his next election is Feb. 28, 2023.

Ed Burke won re-election in February 2019 shortly after he was accused of multiple extortion attempts. For the second time, Ed Burke will face re-election while he’s the subject of a federal corruption probe. He’s seeking a 14th term.

Ed Burke was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic added multiple delays to the proceedings. Pretrial motions from August 2020 didn’t get a ruling until this past June.

Ed Burke is charged with extorting two Burger King executives into using his law firm, Klafter & Burke. When they took their business elsewhere, an employee from Burke’s office said they’d resort to “hardball.”

Read on here.

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RepMclaughlin

State Representative Martin McLaughlin

While Illinois Democrats successfully passed legislation that updated sex education standards in schools, state test scores show that less than half of students can read at grade level.

Under Senate Bill 818, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law in August 2021, K-12 schools that teach sex education must meet National Sex Education standards, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Modernizing our sex education standards will help keep our children safe and ensure important lessons, like consent and internet safety, are taught in classrooms,” Pritzker said in the release.

But, GOP lawmakers have mostly opposed the law. State Rep. Martin McLaughlin, R-Barrington Hills, recentky spoke out about what he believes needs to happen.

“When I drop my child off at the front door of her school, my parental rights don’t end there, it’s where they just begin,” McLaughlin said in an Aug. 31 Facebook post. “School boards need to exert control and local authority representing their communities and the local property taxpayers who they serve, not capitulating to national ‘standards.'”

Under modernized standards, students in grades K-2 will learn about how to define gender, gender identity, gender-role stereotypes and medically accurate names for body parts, according to a report from Break Through. Third through fifth graders will learn about masturbation, hormone blockers, and the differences between cisgender, transgender and nonbinary. Sixth through eighth graders will learn to define oral, anal and vaginal sex, and non-prescription contraception.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the most recent Illinois Assessment of Readiness test scores show that less than 20% of Chicago third graders could read or do math at grade level.

About 38% of students statewide can read at grade level, according to Wirepoints.

Source

Related:Resident tells 220 Board of Education what they needed to hear (but did they listen?)

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Rebate

Must be election season

Called an election-year gimmick by some, tax rebate checks start going out to Illinois taxpayers Monday. Critics say permanent tax relief is needed in one of the highest taxes states in the country.

The money is being given back as part of the Illinois Relief Plan, a $1.8 billion aid package Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law in the spring.

To qualify, a person must have been an Illinois resident in 2021 with an adjusted gross income under $200,000 for individual tax filers and under $400,000 for those who filed as couples. 

Taxpayers who filed as a single person on their returns will be eligible to receive $50, and those who filed joint returns will receive $100. If you claimed dependents, you will receive an additional $100 per dependent with a maximum of $300.  

“Whether you had to pay or you got money back, it doesn’t matter,” Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza said. “Everyone who filed will be getting a tax rebate.” 

Illinois residents who paid state property taxes last year on a primary residence will be getting rebates as well. Adjusted gross income must be under $250,000 for single filers and under $500,000 for those who filed as couples. The amount of this rebate depends on the amount of property taxes paid.

State officials said the distribution of the checks should take about two months. 

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, thinks the rebates are all about election year posturing.

“The plan has checks arrive just before the election and then tax reductions expire right after the election,” McConchie said.   

More here.

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220mm

Martin McLaughlin’s public comments to the District 220 Board of Education Tuesday night were followed by applause from attendees.

Speaking as a parent of five children, Martin McLaughlin voiced the following Tuesday evening during public comment at the District 220 Board of Education meeting:

“My name is Martin McLaughlin

I am here tonight as a parent. I live in Barrington Hills. I have had four children go through District 220 school system I have a current sophomore in high school. My family has a 50 year history with this school district.

We have chosen to live here because the District has been a leader in academic excellence for many years.

In the past four to six years, I have been astonished at the level of outside influence that has been allowed to infiltrate our local school district and have impact on policies and curricula, all with the blessing and tacit approval of the majority of this and prior school boards.  And the results have not been good. 

Letters and requests by local blogs and special interest groups arrive every day to each of you, pushing their narrow agendas.  And believe me I get it.  I’ve been in your position, serving as an unpaid elected official for 8 years. I can’t tell you how many special interest groups I have had to say no to.

Allowing Non-Profits out of New York and DC lobbyists and unelected social justice and cultural change agents have an impact on our children’s education and development is what we expect you to protect against, not to embrace.

As a community member, I’d like to see the old 3Rs come back— Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Today unfortunately, our children are being taught a New 3Rs – Radicalization, Revisionist history and Racial divides and IT NEEDS TO STOP.

As far as the academic performance at District 220 in mathematics and reading, the failure rate has increased over 20% since 2019 —a direct result of the policies that kept our children remote and kept them out of the classrooms.

The use of our public education system or Misuse to forward and mandate moral and sociological standards is just wrong. How about we get proficient in math, reading and writing first?

There are places for these discussions to occur, but it’s not in chemistry, math or during PE. And it certainly shouldn’t be presented to minor children, particularly those in the lower grade levels.

We all agree it is not appropriate in public schools to discuss or push religious beliefs upon others, so why should it not be as equally inappropriate to discuss political leanings and further, to discuss age-inappropriate related materials to minor children?

Finally, as it relates to public safety and the public good, in my day public school safety meant putting mulch under the monkey bars in the playground, adding padded seats on the bus and making sure that bullying and physical harm did not occur to any students. 

Never in our wildest imaginations did we believe under the guise of public safety that our parental rights and obligations would be taken away by elected or appointed officials when it comes to the best decisions on children’s behalf regarding personal health decisions, cultural or social guidance, morality, traditional curricula or age-inappropriate content.

As a parent I ask that we please begin to focus once again on what’s most important for our community. Traditional academic-based performance standards which is why we all moved here in the first place and is why we all pay incredibly high taxes to support.

Thank you for your dedicated service.”

The video of McLaughlin’s comments can be found here. You decide which Board members listened.

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JB Teachers

There are fewer students and more teachers in Illinois today than a decade ago, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. Teachers unions push the shortage myth to gain power.

Students and teachers are back in school across Illinois, but teachers unions keep claiming there are not enough teachers to run classrooms.

That’s wrong. State data proves it.

Teachers’ unions have perpetuated the teacher shortage myth. The Illinois Education Association claimed Aug. 28, 2022, the “teacher and education employee shortage [is] getting worse.”

But according to data from the Illinois State Board of Education, there are fewer students and more teachers in Illinois today compared to a decade ago.

Teacher Shortage Graphic

Public school enrollment in Illinois has decreased by nearly 9% in the past decade with just under 1.9 million students enrolled in the 2020-2021 school year. That represents a loss of nearly 180,000 since 2011-2012. Nearly 70,000 of those students have left the public school system since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of teachers in the state has simultaneously been rising during this 10-year period. Illinois had over 4,500 more teachers in 2020-2021, the most recent year with fully available data, than in the 2011-2012 school year. Teacher numbers have climbed by 3.5% while the number of students has dipped by nearly 9%.

Read more here.

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JB Trust

The governor’s promises to divest his vast portfolio of state contractors has not extended to his so-called blind trust, which has the governor’s money in at least a dozen companies with billions in state business

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast investment portfolio includes interests in a dozen for-profit companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office in 2019, a Better Government Association investigation has found.

In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state’s chief executive held enormous sway over their contracts.

The intersection between Pritzker’s personal bottom line and his role as governor comes despite his 2019 promise to divest his personal fortune of investments in state contractors and to transfer his multibillion-dollar portfolio into what he called a “blind trust.”

A BGA investigation of Pritzker’s holdings — including an examination of his annual economic interest disclosures, thousands of pages of state contracts, corporate filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Illinois secretary of state and gubernatorial email communications — shows at least 12 cases large and small in which the governor’s office and the agencies he oversees took action that created a potential conflict of interest for Pritzker.

Authorities on trust law and government ethics told the BGA because Pritzker must disclose each year what is in his blind trust, his promise to avoid conflicts of interest by remaining blind to his investments was both impractical and oversold.

“The term ‘blind trust’ is being used here as a thin shield to conceal the governor’s pursuit of personal profits,” said Bridget J. Crawford, a professor at Pace University’s law school who reviewed the BGA reporting. “This is not a blind trust in any meaningful sense of the phrase.”

Pritzker declined a BGA request to be interviewed for this report.

Read the full BGA report here.

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Cuba Township

Snow could be piled high around the suburbs this winter, if early predictions of a snowy and wet season prove correct.

A snowier, wetter winter may be in the cards for the Chicago region, according to the latest seasonal outlook from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

The forecast shows that — along with a wide swath of the Midwest, including Indiana and much of Ohio — Illinois could see more precipitation than normal, while temperatures are predicted to remain near average levels.

One of the strongest indicators of a wet Chicago winter is the earth is in its third year of the naturally occurring weather phenomenon known as La Niña, which brings cooler-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Its counterpart, El Niño, refers to warmer tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures.

Meteorologist Matthew Rosencrans said current forecasts are “very reflective” of past La Niña winters, which typically have favored above average precipitation for the Great Lakes region.

“On a year-to-year basis, El Niño or La Niña controls about 38% of your variance, and we are in a La Niña, a decently strong one, and very likely to be in a La Niña through the winter,” he said.

However, don’t load up on salt or buy a heavy duty snowblower just yet. Because we’re still four months away from the icy season, the center’s best models for the Midwest have a hit rate of just about 20%,

More here.

Related:Farmers’ Almanac releases winter prediction for Illinois

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