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Editorial note: The, “Bell Works Townhomes,” will be located at 1705 Lakewood Boulevard according to last night’s Hoffman Estates Village Board meeting agenda. Assuming the District 220 Boundary Map is current, these proposed developments are within the 220 boundary (Barbara Rose Elementary).

Bell Works

Hoffman Estates officials have granted approval to the construction of 164 high-end townhouse units on the east side of Bell Works Chicagoland. New Jersey-based Somerset Development is also planning 300 apartments on the same 20-acre site. (Courtesy of Hoffman Estates)

Nearly five years after the redevelopment of Hoffman Estates’ former AT&T corporate campus into the Bell Works Chicagoland “metroburb” was proposed, village board members on Monday approved 164 high-end townhouses to begin the project’s long-promised residential component.

The board also granted preliminary approval to a concept plan for about 300 apartments to follow on the same nearly 20-acre site on the east side of the 152-acre property.

The approved townhouses are planned to be priced in the mid-$400,000s, each with three bedrooms and an option for a fourth. Each unit would have three floors, with a two-car garage on the ground floor and the living areas above.

Though the project was long anticipated, there was discussion about the lack of some usual details that troubled the planning and zoning commission before it gave its recommendation.

Commission Chairman Eva Combs said she was the only member who manifested her frustration as a “no” vote, but others among her colleagues voiced similar sentiments.

As a result, the lack of such details as a homeowners association charter led to the commission’s recommending an unusual number of conditions.

Read more here.

Related:Remaking white elephant suburban headquarters: Is a ‘metroburb’ headed to Hoffman Estates?” “Developer filing plan for townhouses, apartments at Bell Works in Hoffman Estates

 

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220 2023

Leonard Munson, Katey Baldassano and Matt Sheriff

Yesterday we reviewed some candidates running for seats on the District 220 Board of Education (BOE) April 4, 2023 elections. To summarize, we recommended residents not vote for Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler so far.

Five other candidates are asking voters to consider voting for them, and they are:

Leonard Munson: Munson is a United States Air Force veteran, and served as a Survival Resistance and Escape instructor for 20 years. He brought these experiences to the private sector running small businesses including training and operational support on the Global War on Terror. Munson has served on the LEADS board educating and mentoring a drug free District 220.

Munson was often found to  be the voice of reason during public comment at  BOE meetings, advocating for choice and parental rights when it came to masking the District 220 students. In addition, Munson recently gave public comment at a BOE meeting in favor of the District funding all day kindergarten, which Collister-Lazari would presumably not support given her interest in raising the cost to parents of kindergarten enrichment.

Katey Baldassano:  Baldassano has a master’s degree in educational leadership with a bachelors in early childhood education. She’s been a teacher in Carpentersville and has provided educational support in the home setting.

Baldassano has spoken at BOE meetings during public comment urging the Board to ensure that parents retain their right to determine what books their children had access to when deciding on keeping books, such as Gender Queer, the book endorsed by Altshuler, in the school libraries. She also addressed the Board during the remote learning and masking debate, discussing the potential long term effects of denying young children the education they need, the need for human connection and relationships, and that true equity is about children getting what they need so they can learn.

Matt Sheriff: Sheriff has served many executive and c-level roles professionally with diverse business experience leading companies and negotiating contracts. Given the District’s contract with the Barrington Education Association is currently being negotiated, Sheriff’s experience negotiating with fortune 100 companies will be a great asset in the union negotiations, particularly in light of Hunt’s departure.

Sheriff volunteers with the Lake County Sheriff’s auxiliary deputy unit, assisting Lake County’s local municipalities in times of emergencies and when additional manpower resources are required.

Diana Clopton: Clopton works in marketing for AbbVie Pharmaceuticals. Clopton did face a challenge to her candidacy for failure to properly file her statement of economic interest. She prevailed in that proceeding and her name will remain on the ballot. She piloted two children programs, Born Beautiful, a workshop for young women, and Gamechangers, which teaches kids about entrepreneurship.

We have not seen Clopton speak at any Board of Education meetings, but we know that self-proclaimed activist Jim McGrath, a serial speaker before the BOE, who advocates against the rights of parents to choose whether to vaccinate, mask, or determine appropriate reading material for their children has advocated on Clopton’s behalf on Twitter, referring to her as one of  “our candidates,” along with Altshuler and Collister-Lazarri, each of whom has taken similar positions as McGrath on taking away these parental rights.

Nelda Munoz: Munoz has been outspoken during Board meetings over masking and indoctrination of students over the availability of the book Gender Queer. She was also a plaintiff in one of the pandemic related lawsuits brought against D220. Her grit and determination in the effort to raise awareness of issues to the current BOE has been commendable.

While we appreciate the passion of Munoz, in the wake of Superintendent Hunt’s departure, we think it important that the upcoming board have well-reasoned and thoughtful members to not only search for the next superintendent, but to figure out how to retain him or her for more than 18 months, and to control the madness of the current BOE President Ficke-Bradford.

Having considered all 7 candidates and weighing the pros and cons of each, we’re endorsing Leonard Munson, Katey Baldassano and Matt Sheriff for seats on the District 220 Board of Education.

In an era where the voices of the community have fallen on deaf ears, we believe they will bring a willingness to listen to all voices, integrity, common sense, fiscal responsibility, negotiating skills, and much needed balance to the District 220 Board of Education.

Related:What 220 voters need to know

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2023 Seats Up For Reelection

Angela Wilcox, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Barry Altshuler

Angela Wilcox, current and second longest serving 220 Board of Education member, recently withdrew from the race for another term on the board.  This week, the district’s superintendent, Dr. Robert Hunt, announced his departure only eighteen (18) after his installment (as an aside, the BOE under former President Kazmier and then VP Ficke-Bradford spent nearly a year and Lord knows how much in taxpayer dollars searching for Hunt in 2020).

In light of these two recent events, we think it’s time to take a good look at the candidates running for 220 Board of Education in the upcoming April election.

Incumbent Barry Altshuler, a pediatrician who espouses on his professional website to believing in ‘holistic’ care, routinely advocated for vaccination of students, to keep students remote and masked. Altshuler voted to keep Gender Queer in the District’s libraries, saying, “kids need the book,” and he “wished that book was around when (he) was in middle school.”  For reference, the book is recommended for ages 16 and up.

Altshuler was also heard violating the doctor/patient HIPPA confidentiality when he discussed his patient, Alex Strobl, publicly during BOE meetings surrounding the controversy of Strobl dropping from the 2021 BOE election.

Incumbent Leah Collister-Lazzari voted to keep students remote and masked.  Collister-Lazzari also wrote emails micro-managing Dr. Hunt, such as asking him to tell BHS basketball coaches to make sure the kids were properly masked while playing sports.

In December, Collister-Lazzari voted remotely for an increase in the levy while on a purported ‘business meeting’ in New Zealand, yet also advocated in favor of the District increasing the parental cost of kindergarten enrichment and voted against keeping the fees at their current rate in favor of raising them.

During the D220 strategic planning meetings she brought a 3×5 card with Ficke-Bradford’s equity statement written on it and advocated to have the equity statement put into the D220 mission statement.

Most egregiously, in the opinion of the Observer, in 2021 when three new members of the current Board were sworn in for their first BOE meeting, Altshuler and Collister-Lazzari colluded with Sandra Ficke-Bradford and Erin Chan Ding to oust Member Wilcox from any position as a Board Officer. Wilcox was 6 years into the position, to Altshuler’s and Collister-Lazzari’s 2, and had an exemplary record as the Treasurer of the Board in preceding years.

In addition, the public had made it clear to the BOE Board that Wilcox was preferred to succeed to the position of President surrounding controversial actions of Ficke-Bradford and Kazmierz and their treatment of Alex Strobl who withdrew as a candidate in the 2021 election following their strong-arm tactics.

For these reasons, and more to come, we urge voters NOT to vote for Barry Altshuler and Leah Collister-Lazzari.  They do not deserve to continue on our 220 school board.

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Charles Dietz Jr

Charles Dietz Jr., 73, of Barrington Hills. | Photo: Shalom Memorial Funeral Home

A woman has filed a lawsuit against a driver who allegedly ran a red light and crashed into her and her husband’s car in Barrington Hills, leaving her husband dead.

Chicago-based law firm Cavanagh Law Group filed a three-count negligence lawsuit earlier this week in Cook County Circuit Court.

The suit was filed on behalf of 71-year-old Ilene Dietz following the death of her husband, Charles Dietz Jr., 73, of Barrington Hills.

Ilene Dietz was a passenger in a 2020 Tesla with her husband, Charles Dietz, who was driving on November 4.

The lawsuit accuses the other driver, 34-year-old Matthew Zavala, of running a red light, driving too fast for conditions and crashing into the Tesla at Route 68 and Route 59 in Barrington Hills.

The complaint also names the owner of the 2013 Nissan Rogue, which Zavala was driving at the time of the crash.

Read more here.

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Mas Fines

Illinois’ state and local governments collect some of the most fines and fees in the country on a per capita basis, a new study shows.

The Reason Foundation found that Illinois is second highest in the nation, averaging about $50 per resident in 2020. That is compared to less than $3 per resident in Kentucky.

In 2019, local fines and fees revenue accounted for less than 2% of pre-pandemic general revenue in all 50 states. The year 2017 is the most recent year for which local revenue data is available. During that year, 28,159 U.S. cities, townships and counties reported a total of nearly $5 billion in revenue from fines and fees after excluding jurisdictions without sufficient data.

Data for the study was obtained from the Census Bureau’s annual survey of state and local government finances.

“In Illinois, local governments retain a fairly substantial portion of the revenue generated by citations and traffic tickets within that jurisdiction,” said Vittorio Nastasi, director of Criminal Justice Policy with the Reason Foundation.

Nastasi notes that fines and fees have turned many courts into revenue centers for state and local governments, creating what he calls undesirable conflicts of interest.

Read more here.

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The seedlings closeup.

From the Barrington Area Library:

The Seed Library opens on Wednesday, February 1, beginning at 10 AM!

Drop in on Feb 1 to see what’s available in the Seed Library this season (or plan in advance by visiting our Seed Library website). Master Gardeners will be here to answer questions and share seed starting tips. Learn how to make custom garden items with the laser cutter, help us create painted rocks for our fairy garden (and for you, too!), and pick up Take-And-Make Kits for kids and adults.

Take-And-Makes, info tables, and activities run from 10 AM – 4 PM on February 1; after 4 PM tomorrow, the Seed Library will be open during all regular Library hours. While supplies last. Seeds are organic and non-GMO.”

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Nasa Green Comet

This graphic released by NASA shows the path the “Green Comet” will take across the solar system. (NASA)

A “once-in-a-lifetime comet” that hasn’t been seen in the solar system for 50,000 years is set to reach its brightest moment this week as stargazers will be able to spot it with just a telescope or binoculars.

According to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, the comet, informally known as the “green comet” recently made its closest approach to the sun, after having traveled tens of thousands of years from the far fringes of the solar system.” It is expected to be brightest around Feb. 1 as it reaches its closest point to Earth.

The comet will be “just slightly brighter than 6th magnitude,” the planetarium notes, meaning the comet will be at the “faintest an object can be seen without optical aid in a very clear, very dark sky.”

But it won’t look like what many might imagine a comet to look like – even in photos.

“It will be more like a faint, fuzzy glow or smear of light,” the planetarium reported. “Under a city or suburban sky, you’ll need binoculars or a small telescope to actually see this comet. Even far from city lights, you’ll likely still need binoculars because when the comet is brightest, the bright Moon will be in the sky at the same time, making viewing more difficult.”

Discovered less than a year ago, the harmless green comet already is visible in the northern night sky with binoculars and small telescopes, and possibly the naked eye in the darkest corners of the Northern Hemisphere.

Source

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Cuba

“Take it slow out there today. This is going to be a long duration event. Remember to always give the plow trucks plenty of room and to always drive with your lights ON for safety!”

Editorial note: This from professionals who know what they’re doing. Too bad they no longer service our roads.

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Flock

Barrington officials are expected to decide next month whether to purchase license plate-reading cameras like this one and install them at 12 locations in town. (Courtesy of Flock Safety)

Barrington police soon could have an additional tool at their disposal to help catch suspected criminals.

The village board is expected to vote Feb. 13 on a plan to install license plate reading cameras at 12 locations in town, where they would take snapshots of passing vehicles to capture their make and model, license plate information and any unusual or unique features.

Under the proposal, Barrington would sign a two-year, $70,250 contract with Atlanta-based Flock Group Inc. for the cameras, which are solar-powered, motion-activated and work in all weather conditions.

Police Chief David Dorn said the system would read the plate and, if the vehicle has been reported stolen or there is a warrant associated with it, a real-time text would be sent to a watch commander.

The Flock cameras also would be linked to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center federal and state hotlists, which are updated at least every 24 hours.

Read more here.

Editorial note: Cameras of this type are in use throughout our Village, and have been for some time.

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Switzerland Davos Forum

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making free college a priority in his second term. Tuition is driven up by pension costs, which Pritzker routinely ignores.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making affordable college a priority in his second term, but so far he’s ignored the surest way to ensure it can happen: pension reform.

“It’s also our obligation to make college more affordable by removing financial barriers. That’s why we need to bring down the cost of higher education. Since I took office, we’ve increased scholarships by more than 50%. Now let’s focus on making tuition free for every working-class family,” Pritzker said.

The biggest barrier to affordable college in Illinois is pensions. Rising pension costs push up Illinois tuition, forcing students to pay the difference.

Pension Costs Education

It’s why Illinois has the fourth-highest in-state tuition and fees for public universities in the nation at $14,455 a year. Pritzker boasts increased scholarships, but scholarships are like a coupon: they help people but do nothing to change the price tag.

Other big states keep their universities affordable. Public colleges in California, New York, Texas and Florida all cost under $9,000 a year for residents.

Read more here.

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