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Archive for the ‘Deception’ Category

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered a state budget address Wednesday acknowledging a “challenging” picture of Illinois’ finances and offering improved funding for government services if voters adopt his graduated income-tax plan.

Pritzker’s $42 billion budget proposal would provide $1.4 billion in additional funding for schools and public safety if voters in November pass the graduated-rate proposal, which would replace the state’s constitutionally mandated flat income tax.

“As important as these investments are, we cannot responsibly spend for these priorities until we know with certainty what the state’s revenue picture will be,” Pritzker said.

The proposed constitutional amendment, Pritzker’s signature initiative, would raise an estimated $3.6 billion on an annual basis. If it is adopted by voters, Pritzker has said rates previously passed by the legislature would boost the income-tax burden on the wealthiest 3 percent of taxpayers, with the other 97 percent paying at least the same or less.

Read more here.

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Barrington School District 220 held the first in a series of informational meetings Wednesday about the $147 million referendum voters can expect to see on the March 17 ballot.

Supporters of the referendum, including Helen Lodowsky, leader of a local advocate group called “Yes for 220,” said the district needs this referendum to pass for the students’ sake.

“You guys are talking about money, I get it,” she said. “But these are the people who are our future.”

Others, like community member Bill Bishop, shared concern for the referendum. Bishop said he has a hard time supporting it currently because he doesn’t see a full strategic plan in place for how the district will adapt to changing needs in the community over the next 20 years.

Read more here.

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Barrington Area Unit District 220 wants voters to authorize borrowing $147 million. Voters last April rejected a request to borrow $185 million for facility upgrades.

District 220 is seeking authority to issue $147 million in school building bonds for a variety of projects to include paying for basic improvements at all schools in areas such as safety and security, plumbing, electrical, roofing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Voters last April rejected a request to borrow $185 million for facility upgrades.

Due to existing debt the district expects to pay off in 2021, approval of the ballot measure would have the owner of a $500,000 home still see a net decrease of about $75 a year. Without the referendum, the same homeowner would see a reduction of $468.

Read about other Cook County ballot questions making news here.  Lake County initiatives are also covered by the Daily Herald here

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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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