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BOE

The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting is tomorrow night, April 6th right after the polls close at 7 PM. The meeting will be held in person at the District Administrative Center.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The number of people in the room will be limited to 50, as suburban Cook County and Lake County are in Phase 4 under the State’s Restore Illinois Plan. The livestream of all meetings are viewable via the Board’s YouTube channel.

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220 Green

Did you know you need to be approved by a school board’s candidate steering committee?  You didn’t?  Neither did former Marine, Masters Degree educated teaching  professional Alex Strobl. He learned this very quickly when he decided to run for Barrington District 220 School Board last December.  To be fair, there isn’t an actual steering committee, just a bunch of local partisan, woke “agendists”, pulling strings behind the scenes, making sure that anyone who runs for the Board shares their leftist ideals and philosophies.  Alex Strobl surely wasn’t aware of this when he accepted an invitation from what he thought was a group of interested parents who might get behind his candidacy.  He thought the Zoom call he was invited to would be informal, cordial, informative and helpful in assessing his chances to win election to the school board.

He was surprised that there were about 30 people on the call, including:

  • Penny Kazmier – current D220 Board President
  • Sandra Bradford-Fike – incumbent Board Member running for re-election
  • Maria Peterson – former Democratic candidate for Lake County Board
  • Members of the Illinois Education Association, local Barrington teachers’ union and other official and non-official local organizations

(It should be noted that the two D220 Board members, Kazmier and Fike-Bradford, never notified the other five D220 school board members about this meeting, and thus, they possibly broke several Open Meetings Act laws, not to mention violated ethics policies and standards of practice for any public board member.)

As you will read from Mr. Strobl himself, this was not a “get to know you …how can we help you” call.  This was a full interview and a formal vetting.  And it was evident from the start, if the candidate didn’t share the “woke” agenda of the panel, he was not welcome.  By the end of the interview, Alex was confused and disappointed in the questions and responses from the unofficial tribunal. He decided that this was NOT for him and this whole vetting process did not make sense.  Who were these people? Who gave them authority? How could his candidacy succeed after this inquisition.  He withdrew from the ballot shortly thereafter.

He decided to chalk it up to experience, and put the whole incident behind him until an article showed up on March 27th https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20210326/league-of-women-voters-decries-party-politics-in-barrington-local-elections in the Daily Herald from Elena Ferrarin and then another https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20210330/party-support-appearing-in-district-211-other-local-races?cid=search by Eric Petersen on March 30th.

In the articles, co-President of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of the Palatine Area, Vicki Martin and others criticized a group of local Barrington moms who had assembled to run for the D220 school board and other offices, accusing them of infusing party politics into non-partisan local elections. The LWV claims of partisan organization were unfounded and frankly stung Alex as quite ironic, based on his experience.

This is what prompted him to submit his letter attached:

It is with heavy heart that I write this but I could not remain silent. My name is Alex Strobl. I am a resident of Lake Barrington, a parent of three elementary aged students, and a former teacher and coach at Barrington High School (2005-2015). Recently I was a candidate running for the Barrington Area Unit School District 220. I am writing to share my experience in running for the school board and why I ultimately dropped my candidacy due to the partisan nature of some of the members on the school board.

I write now in response to (and to further expand on) a Daily Herald article titled “League of Women Voters decries party politics in Barrington local elections.” This article struck a chord with me as I agree that transparency is key. My purpose is to inform my community members and to shed additional light on the process as I experienced it. Specifically to inform you that currently two members of the school board are working hand in hand with partisan groups to select, vet, and sponsor candidates of their choosing. While I believe in robust political engagement of citizens across the spectrum, I believe it is a conflict of interest for school board members – who are in non-partisan positions – to actively be working with groups who select and vet candidates along partisan/ideological lines.

In December I was contacted by a current board member to run. I had previously expressed interest in running for a school board position to that board member and appreciated them reaching out. I am passionate about education, well versed on how things operate within the district, and I thought I could make a positive impact. Like many others, I want what is best for the children of Barrington.

I was told that I would be put in touch with a group that was initially described to me as a “group of community parents that could help get out the vote” and one that has helped to “elect other candidates.” Days later, someone else reached out to me to set up a meeting. The next day I signed into a Zoom call with about thirty members of the community. On the call were two current school board members: Penny Kazmier (current president) and Sandra Ficke-Bradford. I was told at the time that the group was a sort of steering committee and that the group was looking to diversify the school board in Barrington. The discussion we had and the questions that were asked seemed to be at one end of the spectrum. I mentioned to the group that I was not only a social studies teacher but was also an executive coach and a former Marine. In each instance, when I responded, my answers were analyzed and a member of the committee would “encourage” me to fine-tune it or at times to reframe it in another way. It was not at all what I expected. I had expected more of a dialogue in my first interaction. More importantly, I was taken aback that I was speaking to a group which I felt represented the school board and was left feeling that I did not fit their desired mold. Again, citizen groups can align to whomever they choose. The difficulty comes with the addition of school board members and the feeling that I needed to change to be welcomed on the board. I felt this interaction represented the board at large because I had been put in touch with the group by a current member coupled with the visible presence and participation of another two board members on the call. In short, in the weeks after the call I was disheartened by what I perceived to be the partisan nature of the group and a directive around what could and could not be said. It is ultimately why I withdrew from the race.

I have genuine desire to help unite this community and serve the students in another capacity. Perhaps I was a little naïve in believing that a non-partisan position such as the school board could ultimately be non-partisan. That said, I feel compelled to surface the hypocrisy of groups and articles pointing to “party politics” while other groups are quietly doing it themselves. I want to ensure that my friends, neighbors, and fellow community members know the machinery behind the scenes of the school board election.

Alex Strobl

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OBH 1

Spring just sprung, and many find ourselves in the biennial rite of Village elections season. It is recognizable from campaign signs dotting the countryside to complete strangers ringing the door or gate bell of our five-acre sanctuaries from masked humanity saying, “Howdy Neighbor,” causing you to wonder what unannounced circumstances you’re in for.

For the uninitiated, it will be an opportunity to meet a neighbor.  For others it represents something akin to an unsolicited sales pitch trying to convince you to vote a certain way.  If it’s the latter, you’re likely encountering a “special interest club” member.

Some of these club members can be the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Others, however, might say anything to sway your vote, and we’ve heard a lot of the classics.  Either way, these club members manage to get eighty to ninety percent of their membership roster to the polls; thus, the reason for our request for all residents to take the time to vote. Here are our reasons:

  • Four years ago, at the height of the special interest club’s campaign frenzy, current Village President Marty McLaughlin tied for McHenry County votes against his competitor. His winning margin was only 65 votes.
  • In this same election, two special interest club members won by just three and four votes, and they’re both running again as a ticket, despite the fact one has missed a quarter of Board of Trustees meetings (a years’ worth).

Currently, the special interest club is fronting four of their Cook County members as candidates who would represent a majority of seats on our Village Board of Trustees.  We believe it important the county be mentioned since most of their interests in running is county centric, such as the revival of commercial horse boarding conflict and wanting to have more control of the Forest Preserve of Cook County’s Horizon Farms on top of the extensive trail system.

Leading this group is the current president of the Barrington Hills Park District who is running for Village President.  Transparency is not in his vocabulary, nor is fiscal responsibility or expense reduction.  In fact, our Park District has seen a 17% increase in levies under his watch, and three month ago he asked what the legal limit was for raising the 2021 levy prior to the required formal hearing – and he then approved that maximum raise.

Contrast that with the repeated seven levy decreases we’ve experienced along with many other financial benefits our village has experienced in eight years.  Benefits such as lower taxes, vastly improved roads, legal expenses that are a small fraction of what they were under the prior village president, just to name a few.

The way to continue the positive progress Barrington Hills has benefited from is to elect candidates with the values instilled by Martin McLaughlin and Colleen KonicekHannigan when they first took office eight years ago.

To accomplish that, all residents reading this need to make every effort possible to vote. We’re confident Brian Cecola is up for the challenge to serve as President as are David Riff, Tom Strauss and Laura Ekstrom to serve as Trustees. They not only have our endorsement, but also the endorsements of those with the highest regard of most residents; Marty McLaughlin and Colleen Konicek Hannigan.

So yes, if you want to continue the positive momentum we’ve enjoyed for eight years, please take the time to vote!

Early voting times and locations can be found here.

Related: We’ve Been Clubbed by Commercial Horse Boarding

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BEA 1

The Barrington Education Association (BEA), the teachers union for D220, has been very vocal publishing social media posts, emails, and flyers supporting their four endorsed candidates for school board election. Beyond being vocal in support they have been extremely vocal in criticizing the three candidates (Katie Karam, Steve Wang and Malgorzata McGonigal) who chose not to meet with them to seek a union endorsement, nor to meet with an organization called Be the Change Barrington (BTC).

Who is BTC? They have a website that lists various positions and recommendations for the administration and education of students in D220. However, nothing on these pages identifies who exactly they are, who they are accountable to, where they live, or even if they are residents of D220.

Their list of recommendations (more accurately demands) is a platitude of critical race theory, alleging widespread racism and social injustice within D220. However, from police sources, there is little evidence of hate crime within our district. So what are these recommendations based on?

Apparently, a survey of around 600 alumni and active students. The survey does not break down the percentage of alumni to current students, nor does it identify whether any of these alumni are currently living within D220, parents of students, or taxpaying members of our community. Yet, the BEA has crowned them as an important representative voice of D220 and has lambasted and shamed the three candidates who chose not to meet with these unidentified individuals.

Why should you care? To follow are some of the recommendations of BTC for your children:

“BTCB calls on Barrington 220 to critically examine and make changes to its staff training, curriculum requirements, and administrative policies in the pursuit of anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy.”

“All educators and students must undergo a mandatory anti-racism training and unconscious bias training. Anti-racist and unconscious bias training is necessary for supporting the multiracial, multilingual, and multicultural student body within Barrington 220.”

“Barrington 220 must play an active role in challenging the myths of colorblindness and meritocracy within the education system, and instead commit to practicing anti-racism, anti-bias, and equity. In order for training sessions to be sustainable and meaningful, they must go beyond the intellectual work of fighting oppression and challenge staff and students to do the deeply personal, emotional, and communal work of dismantling racism and white supremacy culture.”

The list is much broader and can be found at this ink: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N9DdAepfjRtjNjhA0UMddGkrXMFfNHU-/view

These recommendations have been cited by the BEA and its four endorsed candidates as important lesson plans and discussions that your children should be given in their D220 education.

The BEA has a lobbyist group (iPACE) that sends out mail pieces, i.e. “in-kind” donations, on behalf of the four candidates endorsed by the BEA and also provides monetary donations to those candidates. Recently, the Palatine League of Women Voters (LWV) hosted several Candidate forums, including forums for school board candidates and library board.

For a group that claims to be “non-partisan“, the BEA through its lobbyists, iPACE, has donated significantly to Democratic candidates, including $52,800 in 2019 to former Speaker Michael Madigan.

Also, LWV was outspoken in a recent Herald article surrounding Karam, Wang & McGonigal, for school board and Croll, Ordway & Stenberg for library board: “A partisan political group in Barrington has expressed support for candidates in school and library board races, a move criticized by the League of Women Voters, which says party politics has no place in local elections…”

Wow! Pot? Kettle?  Sounds like the BEA and LWV need to take a long look in the mirror.

So, in what conceivable way can the LWV forum have been considered non-partisan under these circumstances? Particularly where the BEA, which pays dues to IEA and iPACE, started a full court press on endorsements and social media posts supporting Ding, Klauer, Ficke-Bradford, and Mitoraj by February 6th, a month prior to the LWV forum, and iPACE had already made donations to Ding which she stated she used for signs and mailers (mailers that coincidentally didn’t include campaign disclosure information as required by SBOE).

There is a lot of ugly going on around the D220 community.

The BEA is flexing its union muscle and it wants to con you into voting Ding, Klauer, Ficke-Bradford, and Mitoraj. They even went so far as condescending to come back to full time school the week before the April 6th election. Why? Because they want their handpicked four to be elected and vote the BEA union byline.

Make no mistake, D220 families; if Ding, Klauer, Ficke-Bradford, and Mitoraj are elected to the school board on April 6th your kids will be back to e-learning and remote school on April 7th.

If you want a board that will advocate on behalf of your children, tax dollars and community, it is imperative that you VOTE KARAM, WANG, & McGONIGAL for school board.

    – Guest essay

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There are a number of exceptionally qualified candidates running for office in the upcoming Consolidated Elections April 6th.    

Following is a summary of candidates running for various offices in the order they appear on the ballots for those offices. The Observer has noted those candidates we endorse with a check mark.

Early voting is available to registered voters now through Election Day.

Pres VBH

Trustee VBH

220 VBH 1

HC VBH

BAL VBH

BHPD VBH

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BTRO

A partisan political group in Barrington has expressed support for candidates in school and library board races, a move criticized by the League of Women Voters, which says party politics has no place in local elections.

In an email and on Facebook this month, the Barrington Township Republican Organization backed candidates running for the Barrington Area Library, Barrington Area Unit School District 220 and Harper College boards. The candidates also are backed by a political action committee called ACTION, or “Advancing Change Together In Our Neighborhood.”

Vicki Martin, co-president of the League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area, which includes Barrington, called it “a bad precedent.” The nonpartisan group has received several calls from people concerned about this, she said.

The ACTION PAC backs Katie Karam, Malgorzata “Maggie” McGonigal and Steve Wang for the Barrington Area Unit District 220 school board, Josie Croll and Ann Ordway for Barrington Area Library board, and Kelly Dittman for Harper College trustee.

The eight other candidates for the four seats on the District 220 board are incumbents Sandra Ficke-Bradford and Mike Schakleton, and newcomers Erin Chan Ding, Tom Mitoraj, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, William Betz, Jonathan Matta and Robert Windon. Also running for three open seats on the Harper College board are incumbents Diane G. Hill, William F. Kelley and Nancy N. Robb. And incumbents Denise Tenyer and Jennifer Lucas are also running for two open seats on the library board.

When contacted by the Daily Herald, Republican organization President Peter Kopsaftis said the support for the ACTION PAC came from him as an individual, not the organization as a whole.

“Don’t make things out of nothing,” he told a reporter. “It’s not an endorsement. It’s simply information.”

Read more here.

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Fast Tines 1

Political committees must abide by Illinois State Board of Elections transparency rules.

Earlier this week, we posted some helpful reminders to area political candidates of their campaign reporting responsibilities with the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE).  This will be our second (in what may become a series) posting of helpful hints on campaign transparency due to one (apparent) repeat offender.

The ISBE rules clearly state:

“Any committee that makes an expenditure for any kind of communication directed at voters and mentioning the name of a candidate in the next upcoming election must ensure that the communication clearly identifies the committee as having paid for it. This applies to any committee that pays for any part of the advertisement, including its production and distribution.” 

Well, residents are now receiving a mailing from a candidate committee (a portion pictured below) that does not appear to adhere to these rules. We previously noted that this candidate’s campaign committee signs display no state mandated committee identification either.  

DK Violation

A campaign mailers sent to residents recently does not disclose the campaign committee that paid for it.

Common sense dictates that if one is running for elected office that every opportunity for campaign advertising with the candidate’s name on it would be maximized, especially when it comes to taking credit for who paid for it (at least one would think that).

This particular candidate, however, either fancies himself as a rebel, or perhaps isn’t taking this election as seriously as he should considering the high office he’s seeking.  Another possibility is much more troubling, however, and that is he may not wish to disclose who is actually paying for his advertisements.

Related:Some helpful campaign tips for area candidates

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Village HallThe Daily Herald has published profiles of the two candidates running for Village President.  In ballot order, click on any of their names to read the bio they wrote for submission:

Election Day is April 6th.

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The city of Chicago will begin issuing tickets to motorists who are speeding six to 10 mph over the speed limit in Automated Speed Enforcement zones starting Monday.

Fines will start at $35 for going 6 mph over the speed limit.

According to data released by the city, fatal crashes involving people in motor vehicles increased from 52 to 92 in 2020, which is a 77% increase.

The city says these deaths “reflect a national trend and have occurred at a time when, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer cars are on the road and traffic data shows cars are driving 9% faster on average.”

City officials say the goal is not to issue tickets (Really?), but rather to encourage safer driving behavior. Officials also hope to discourage speeding that is correlated with more severe injuries and deaths in traffic crashes.

Below is a compiled list of frequently asked questions about Chicago’s Automated Speed Enforcement zones:

  • How does the automated safety camera system work?
  • What are the Safety Zone times and speed limits?
  • Is there a warning period?
  • Where are cameras located?
  • How much is a ticket?
  • Can you contest an Automated Speed Enforcement violation?
  • What defenses are allowed for most speeding tickets?

For answers to these questions, click here.

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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Following is a statement from Michael J. Madigan:

“Today I am announcing that I will resign as state representative of the 22nd district at the end of the month. It has been my great honor to serve the people of Illinois as speaker of the House and state representative of the 22nd District. This journey would not have been possible without my wonderful wife, Shirley, and children, Lisa, Tiffany, Nicole and Andrew, who have stood by my side year after year, providing their love and support despite the pressure of growing up in the public spotlight. I am fortunate to have them in my life.

“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service. Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House.

“As speaker, legislator and member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention, I worked to make the General Assembly a co-equal branch of government, ensuring it acted as a check on the power of the governor and the executive branch, especially around a governor’s abuse of the amendatory veto. Many heated battles were fought to keep governors from rewriting legislation sent to them by the General Assembly.

“I am particularly proud of our work to increase the diversity of voices in the House Democratic Caucus to include more women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. In my tenure as Illinois House speaker, we worked to elect representatives across all backgrounds and beliefs to truly represent the interests of the people of our state.

“With the partnership of this diverse and talented group of Illinois Democrats and with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to level the playing field and strengthen the middle class while workers in other states saw their wages diminished.

“We achieved school funding reform to increase investment for schools in need and address inequalities in our state’s education system. We made Illinois a welcoming state by passing the Illinois Dream Act and providing drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents.

“We strengthened the rights of workers, increased the minimum wage, expanded access to health care for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, and protected a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.

“We upheld the rights of all Illinois residents by passing marriage equality, finally recognizing the rights of men and women to marry the people they love. We enacted criminal justice reforms to break down laws that too often target people of color and led the country in expanding voting rights as other states weakened them.

“Collaborating with leaders in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, health care and other industries, we built a partnership with job creators to encourage economic development and address crises in our unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems. We also expanded opportunities in the tourism and film industry, created the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority that reinvented McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and established the Illinois Sports Facility Authority that kept the White Sox in Chicago.

“When were confronted with the Rauner administration and the interests of the wealthy, who sought to weaken unions and the labor movement in Illinois, we stood up for working people.

Rauner went on to plunge our state into a budget crisis, nearly bankrupting social service agencies, eliminating funding for higher education, and racking up billions of dollars in state debt in the process. House Democrats stood as the last line of defense to protect our state from collapse.

“Under my leadership, we increased transparency of state and local government by creating the Freedom of Information Act and protecting it from attempts to water it down, impeached Rod Blagojevich and repeatedly strengthened the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws.”

“It’s no secret that I have been the target of vicious attacks by people who sought to diminish my many achievements lifting up the working people of Illinois. The fact is, my motivation for holding elected office has never wavered. I have been resolute in my dedication to public service and integrity, always acting in the interest of the people of Illinois.”

“My achievements would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of many members of my staff through the years. I thank them for their efforts on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus and the people of Illinois. I also want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who worked on behalf of the residents of the 22nd District. It is with the collective support of many that we have made Illinois a bastion of Democratic values.

“I leave office at peace with my decision and proud of the many contributions I’ve made to the state of Illinois, and I do so knowing I’ve made a difference.”

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