Archive for the ‘IAA’ Category

Editorial note: Monday’s monthly Village Board of Trustees meeting will be the last regular one for President Pro-Tem Colleen Konicek Hannigan and President Martin McLaughlin.  Here’s what the Daily Herald wrote when the two first won office eight years ago:


Barrington Hills Village President-elect Martin McLaughlin looks over results Tuesday at his election night party with Trustee-elect Colleen Konicek Hannigan. Both won election and will be sworn into office next month. (John Starks | Staff Photographer)

McLaughlin looks ahead to Barrington Hills presidency

Posted 4/10/2013 5:15 PM

A day after his upset victory over two-term Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud, president-elect Martin McLaughlin said his intentions remain the same as during his campaign — to return the village to the normal business of providing services cost-effectively.

McLaughlin said he’d considered divisive debates over outdoor lighting regulations and commercial horse boarding to be manufactured and unnecessary, and believes voters ultimately agreed.

“There were a lot of exhausted, weary residents who were just looking for someone to represent them,” McLaughlin said. “We need someone to actively heal the divisions. I don’t think we need to do anything great here. We just need a deep breath.”

McLaughlin said he never considered the race to be personal and hopes he can turn to Abboud as a resource in the future.

Given the perceived strength of Abboud’s campaign, McLaughlin said he never counted on more than being a messenger.

“I thought I would define issues,” McLaughlin said. “The outcome was a pleasant surprise.”

While McLaughlin would like to give the village a fresh start, he realizes there’s few times when that’s entirely possible. The village remains in the midst of addressing important issues such as the proposed Insurance Auto Auction site in neighboring East Dundee, the long lingering lawsuit over covenants governing the Sears property in Hoffman Estates and mediated negotiations toward a police contract.

McLaughlin believes the fact East Dundee voters also elected a new village president — Lael Miller — provides opportunity for a fresh start for talks about the auto auction proposal, which he considers a threat to the aquifer Barrington Hills residents use.

McLaughlin disagreed with his predecessor’s aggressive approach to East Dundee.

“Shaking hands isn’t a bad way to start, instead of shaking fists,” McLaughlin said.

He also hopes to reach a settlement on the Sears lawsuit and examine the police department’s pension system, which broke away from the state’s several years ago.

Senior Village Trustee Fritz Gohl, who won re-election Tuesday, said he’s keeping an open mind on working with the new president, whom he’s not yet met.

McLaughlin will be joined on the board by two new trustees, Gohl’s running mate, Michael Harrington, and McLaughlin’s running mate, Colleen Konicek Hannigan. Though he’s unfamiliar with McLaughlin, Gohl knows Konicek Hannigan very well.

“I know where she’s coming from because she’s a Barrington Hills lifer like me,” he said.

Having worked with both Abboud and the late Jim Kempe, Gohl said he knows the approach to the village president job has a lot to do with each president’s personality. He agrees with McLaughlin’s assessment that new leadership in East Dundee offers new opportunities for negotiation over Insurance Auto Auction.

Gohl is less certain McLaughlin will find any obvious places to cut the village budget short of laying off workers, and said he welcomes professional insight of the new president and Harrington on managing the village’s police pension fund.

More challenging will be the village’s change of leadership in the midst of police contract talks, Gohl said. The new contract will be one of many areas in which the new president will likely experience a baptism by fire.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens,” he added. “He’ll be learning as he goes.”

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Three candidates running on the “Your Barrington Hills” (YBH) slate are seeking public office for the first time in Barrington Hills. Their names (Louis Iacovelli for president, Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak for trustee) are not familiar to most residents, as none of them have had any prior experience or position in our village government. However, their names are definitely well-known in the equestrian community, as they and their spouses have been intimately involved in the Riding Club of Barrington Hills (RCBH). As we’ve published previously, all three of these candidates and Elaine Ramesh, running separately from the slate, have all meticulously avoided nearly any reference to their penchant for all things equestrian during their campaigns.

The question being asked is, did these three choose to run because of their genuine interest in the welfare of all village residents, or did they run at the behest of others who share a hidden agenda?

The YBH candidates, can find no real fault with the record of the current administration, and have had to manufacture issues, frequently grossly misrepresenting facts in their mailers, social media platforms and their newspaper interviews, a technique taken out of the playbook of the former village president, and the Save 5 Acres and SOS campaigns in recent election cycles. Not only are their allegations not based in fact,  their responses to the candidate questionnaires published in two suburban newspapers, are nearly identical, as if penned by the same hand. They all present the same, disingenuous information, either by design to discredit and malign the current administration, or by laziness in researching village documents. Whatever the reason for the deception, none are worthy of candidacy for Village office.

Let’s examine some of the spin coming out of the Riding Club camp:

  • YBH Spin: The new 911 dispatch service is not working as well as the former in-house system?  REALITY: This is not supported by fact. According to the Chief of Police, the outsourced system actually provides better coverage and faster response times.
  • YBH Spin: Police coverage has diminished, thereby endangering residents’ safety. REALITY: This is not supported by fact, as the Village, with a static population, has had the same number of officers in the field for twenty years.
  • YBH Spin: There are no commercial businesses in Barrington Hills, and the village does not collect sales tax? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. There are a few businesses in the village, and annually $120,000 – $130,000 in sales taxes revenue is collected from them, according to Village records.
  • YBH Spin: The Village is being re-branded as embracing small lots? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. As best as we can figure, YBH is claiming this because the village website states “Large properties ranging from one to 10+ acres give residents more freedom to live how they want…” This is nothing more than a statement of fact. And, if Louis, Paula or Bob were actually familiar with the village’s official zoning map, they would know that 1-acre, 2-acre and 3-acre properties currently exist within Barrington Hills and have existed for decades (Burning Oak Trail, Barrington Bourne and Ashbury Lane to name just a few neighborhoods that have lots under 5 acres). These R-2, R-3 and R-4 districts are also referenced in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan.
  • YBH Spin: Open spaces are at risk and must be saved? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. Since the 2013 elections, to date, only 14 permits for single-family home construction have been issued for properties, all on 5 or more acres, with NO applications for subdivisions.
  • YBH Spin: FOIA expenses are out of control? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) expenses are documented to be less than they were prior to 2013, and majority of the current expense can be attributed to three individuals, all of whom support this three-person slate.
  • YBH Spin: The current Administration is not protecting residents from intrusion by development in neighboring communities? REALITY: This is not supported by fact. The main issues raised by the Riding Club slate are Longmeadow Parkway (LMP) and the pending Plum Farm Development in Hoffman Estates, both of which could have been mitigated by the previous administration with proper proactive negotiation. The current administration has acted to the limits of the law in its attempts to discourage these plans. In addition to its resolution against LMP, the McLaughlin administration has opposed and spoken out against the IAA Auto Yard in East Dundee, the Speedway development in Lake Barrington in 2015, and voted against the widening of Route 62 2014-2017. And within the last month, Barrington Hills passed a 20-year border agreement with South Barrington.
  • YBH Spin: The Village Levy has not increased in twelve years? REALITY: This misrepresents the facts. According to published village financial records, the levy under the previous regime was set at $6,565,273 as set by previous administration in each of years 2011-2012-2013. The Village Board, lead by McLaughlin and trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan LOWERED the levy in each successive year from 2014 through 2016, down to $$5,319,862. This represents a cumulative reduction in the Levy of $1,736,467.

So we ask again: are these poor hapless candidates just dazed and confused, or have these hard-core equestrians been  coached by three village residents who have strong personal reasons to support this slate of Iacovelli, Jacobsen and Zubak, (as well as Elaine Ramesh whose candidacy was the subject of our previous feature)? Their close associates include 1) the vocal large-scale commercial boarding operator who has been involved in on-going litigation with the village for eight years, 2) the chairman of a large undeveloped property located in unincorporated McHenry County, who has been fanning the flames of controversy over repeal of the flawed Anderson II horse boarding ordinance, and 3) of course, the former village president who apparently is desirous of once again imposing his failed agendas upon our village.

We believe that the ultimate goal of all four of these candidates is to reinstate ordinances to permit unbridled, large-scale commercial boarding and unimpeded related commercial equestrian activities to the Village, at the expense of the rights of the rest of us to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes.

Unbridled commercial equestrian activities may be THEIR Barrington Hills, but it’s not OUR Barrington Hills.





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Half TruthThe direct mail campaign so far by the SOS Party includes a catchphrase intended to lure votes from less informed residents of Barrington Hills in the April 7th election.  Their advice to those voters is, “Don’t be deceived,” as though others in the Village aren’t as genuine as they pretend to be, casting aspersions upon the One Barrington Hills candidates Bryan Croll, Michelle Nagy Maison and Brian Cecola, as well as our current Village President.

The truth is that many informed residents find their use of that catchphrase to be extremely disingenuous since the SOS mailings, website and Facebook page are littered with half-truths and, in some cases, blatant misrepresentations of the facts in this election.

In fact, there are so many distortions of reality in their various campaign communications that we’ll need to publish them in a multi-part series beginning today with part one.  What is even more disturbing, however, is that the SOS candidates may actually believe what they wrote (or approved for publication) is the truth.

Here’s Part One of SOS campaign deceits:

SOS Spin:  “Save Open Space candidates have no hidden agendas.”

Reality:  Patty Meroni and Karen Selman have consistently practiced special interest agenda-based, block voting on the Village Board since they were elected.  The bulk of their massive campaign donations have come from members of the largest quasi-political action committee in the Village, The Riding Club, which appears to set the SOS agenda, hidden or not.

The recently passed and fast-tracked LeCompte/Anderson Commercial Horse Boarding Amendment favoring one boarding operation in particular is a prime example of their agenda-based voting.  As a result, Barrington Hills now faces a lawsuit that cites actions by Meroni and Selman.  

SOS Spin:  “(Selman) structured and managed $8.4 million annual village budget.”

Reality:  Every year, each member of the Board of Trustees submits the proposed budget for their assigned committee to the Village Treasurer, who then works with the Village President to structure the budget.  The Village Treasurer manages and reports expenses versus revenues and provides reports to the Board, which Selman presents each month for approval.

SOS Spin:  “(Naumann and supporters) collected nearly 600 signatures against (Meroni’s) bike plan”

Reality:  Mary Naumann did present nearly 600 signatures, however many were double or triple counted, as a result of multiple versions of petitions being circulated.  One very telling petition version pertained to keeping the traffic island at Haegers Bend and Spring Creek, which Patty Meroni on her own apparent authority offered to remove at a May 2013 McHenry County Council of Mayors meeting.

SOS Spin:  “(Meroni) actively opposed construction of environmentally hazardous East Dundee auto reclamation site atop aquifer adjacent to Pond Gate subdivision.

Reality: Meroni’s attendance at East Dundee village meetings did little, if anything, to positively sway East Dundee to modify IAA’s construction plans.  Almost immediately after he was elected, President McLaughlin exercised diplomacy to work on mitigation for the neighboring residents, and obtained safeguards to their and others’ water supply.

SOS Spin: “(President McLaughlin) abandoned the residents of Pond Gate after promising to help prevent or mitigate a sure-to-pollute auto-dismantling site planned in East Dundee.”

Reality: President McLaughlin dove head first into what had been a mismanaged situation regarding IAA’s proposed facility.  Working with IAA management, he secured their agreement to line the retention pond to protect the aquifers.  Additionally, IAA agreed to reduce operating hours on weekdays, and weekends, restrict lighting at the facility, equip all machinery with state-of-the art “white noise” backup signals for sound suppression, and restrict car-carrying trucks from using Penny Road.

The Village of East Dundee also offered to install a fire hydrant in close proximity to the Pond Gate subdivision, as well as provide snow plowing and road resurfacing of Pond Gate’s private roadways.  This is hardly what any rational person could consider “abandonment” of these residents.

Look for part two in this “Don’t be deceived” series in tomorrow’s Barrington Hills Observer.

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The Illinois Commerce Commission has thrown out a $500,000 complaint East Dundee filed over a ComEd-owned easement that the utility blocked an auto auction business from using.

Besides the money, Village President Lael Miller also wanted the commission to overturn ComEd’s refusal to let Insurance Auto Auctions, a business that sells wrecked vehicles to the highest bidder, use the easement on Commonwealth Drive. That was all in addition to attorneys fees and other unspecified damages Miller sought.

Read more here.

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer in January in the last few years. These articles, gathered from various publications and editorials, are noteworthy for residents in that they remind us of where we’ve been as a community.

End of Barrington Hills light debate coming Monday? – 2011

Barrington Hills’ long-controversial outdoor lighting ordinance could be up for its final vote on Monday, but even its most ardent opponents are at peace.

Read the Daily Herald story here.

Law needed to halt FOIA abuses – 2012

FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, is an enhancement of governmental transparency. FOIA provides access to information, including the village budget, costs, procedures, and the like. FOIAs are legitimately used by the media.

Read the original post with comments here.

Barrington Hills may host meeting on auto auction site – 2013

Because East Dundee won’t hold a fifth hearing to discuss the merits of an auto auction business coming to town, neighboring Barrington Hills, which opposes the project, wants to host a town-hall meeting on the issue.

Revisit the original post with comments here.

Longmeadow Parkway fate may go to voters – 2013

If Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen gets his way, Kane County residents may be asked whether the county should proceed with long-planned improvement of transportation on the county’s north end.

Lauzen told County Board members Wednesday he would be reluctant to support further work on the proposed Longmeadow Parkway project without a demonstration of public support for the large, regional road project.

Read the Northwest Herald story here.

–     The Observer

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The Observer takes a look back at the year gone by and presents our most frequently read editorials and news stories for 2013.  Click on any title to read or revisit stories from this past year.


It’s morning again

In May, the Observer anticipated the swearing-in of newly elected Village President Martin McLaughlin, and presented readers with a message of healing and reconciliation.

September Board recordings released and our observations

This was our most commented story of the year, and focused on the efforts of Trustee Patty Meroni to block the Inaugural Hills are Alive Fall Heritage Festival.

Time to step aside

This editorial from August discussed the ongoing difficulties that Village Board member Karen Selman seems to have with her duties chairing the Finance Committee.

The IAA Battle: Why it was over before it began

After East Dundee approved the proposed IAA auto auction facility in July, the Observer reflected upon a multitude of reasons that Bob Abboud’s strategy was doomed to fail.

It’s all about the money

This editorial, leading up to the April Village Election, highlighted the financial issues which faced the Village, including exorbitant legal spending and high FOIA costs.

McLaughlin for Village President, Konicek Hannigan and Stieper for Trustee

This opinion piece featured The Observer’s endorsements for Village Board seats in the April 9 election. 

News Stories:

McLaughlin Looks Ahead to Barrington Hills Presidency

The day after Martin J. McLaughlin’s surprise election victory over incumbent Robert G. Abboud, the Daily Herald interviewed the President-Elect, and discussed the challenges which lay ahead.

2013 Survey Report

As was the case in 2012, the compilation of the results of this year’s annual resident survey was one of the Observer’s top five stories of the year.

Hills are Alive Heritage Festival draws big crowd

The first-ever Hills Are Alive Fall Heritage Festival drew a large crowd of over 800 residents, who enjoyed many activities at the Barrington Hills Park District Riding Center.

AG’s office reviews ex-mayor’s Barrington Hills appointments

Shortly before leaving office, and with little if any prior notice, the former Village President made over thirty nominations or renominations to nearly every Village non-elected board, commission and committee. 

Ex-Barrington Hills mayor admits talking to ComEd about auto auction plan

Former Village President Robert Abboud admitted in July that he had contacted ComEd president and CEO Anne Pramaggiore and had urged her to deny Insurance Auto Auctions’ request to allow access to their East Dundee business using a ComEd easement.

2014 New Year

Once again, we at The Observer would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our readers and subscribers.  We wish you all           

Happy New Year!

–     The Observer

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2013shiningIt is with great pleasure that we announce our choice for the 2013 Shining Star Award.  Our congratulations go to Village President Martin J. McLaughlin.

Clearly this year, as with last year, there were many outstanding candidates submitted to The Observer for consideration.  Everyone nominated shared a common goal of bettering our community and/or our Village government through their time and dedication.

A year ago, if you knew who Martin McLaughlin was, chances are you had children in any one of three District 220 schools.  A devoted father of five daughters, Marty has been very active in school activities ranging from coaching school athletic teams to the mundane, yet necessary at times, carpooling of kids to and from school.

If you did not know Marty a year ago, you were in the majority since about two-thirds of Barrington Hills households do not have school age children.  Needless to say, this situation dramatically changed since then when the April 9, 2013, election results were reported – an outcome that likely stunned many in the Village, and possibly even the unpretentious McLaughlin who won in all four counties in Barrington Hills.

Once sworn into office, it quickly became evident that Marty didn’t shy away from problem issues, both recent and longstanding, within and without our Village that needed immediate attention.  Some, particularly the planned Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) facility proposed in East Dundee and the protracted police union legal battle, were in complete diplomatic disrepair.

Though it was clear the IAA development was a foregone conclusion, Marty still chose to represent the interests of the Pond Gate subdivision residents and the Village by immersing himself in the issues and fashioning some mitigating solutions.  We understand Marty continues to meet with IAA representatives and East Dundee officials toward goals benefiting all parties and protecting Village residents.

The most recent Village Newsletter provides an excellent overview of the situation we faced with our sworn police officers who unionized in 2010.  President McLaughlin can only be described as “politic” in his message to residents, but the fact is our Village was wasting hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars before he finally put an end to it.

Another longstanding and costly legal battle with Sears also drew his attention due to the vast amounts spent.  South Barrington, a codefendant in the case, has also incurred significant legal fees in the case.  Yet in more than ten years of fighting in the courts, neither village government had met to discuss a strategy toward common goals toward resolution.

On June 10 of this year – less than two months into his first term in office – Marty arranged a joint meeting of the Barrington Hills and South Barrington village boards.  While this may not be considered a breakthrough idea, it demonstrated a genuine theme of collaboration that Marty has brought to how our Village government should run.

The best example of Marty’s collaborative acumen was the first annual “The Hills Are Alive Fall Heritage Fest” held last October.  Months in the making, he enlisted funding assistance from vendors serving the Village to cover expenses.  Some supportive Trustees also chipped in some personal funds to help the cause.

He also involved the Barrington Hills Park District early on, as well as organizations throughout Barrington Hills from the equestrian clubs to local restaurants to conservation organizations.  Many residents also volunteered their time to oversee many activities during the fest.

Despite some rather dogmatic questioning from the board and even an eleventh hour thirty line item FOIA request submitted by a local curmudgeon, Marty’s course never swayed in accomplishing his goal of providing a fun-filled venue for residents to gather and interact.  In the end, some eight hundred residents attended the fest throughout a sunny day on October 10, 2013.  His perseverance paid off, and residents appreciated having a gathering that provided attractions for all ages.

These are just some of the highlights of what Marty has accomplished in only eight months in office.  His demonstrated hands-on leadership on tough issues combined with his cooperative approach to most all aspects of Village government are why we once again congratulate him on this award.

–     The Observer

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Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer in October since 2010. These articles, gathered from various publications and editorials, are noteworthy for residents in that they remind us of where we’ve been as a community.

Spring Creek honored as rare birds reappear – 2010

The National Audubon Society has proclaimed Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Barrington Hills, an Important Bird Area, protecting “globally rare” prairie birds.

Read the Daily Herald story here.

Errors were made; others were blamed… – 2011

MessMerSelEarlier this year, The Observer posted articles from various publications relating to complaints filed by Village residents with the Illinois State Board of Elections (SBOE) concerning potential campaign law violations by then “Save 5 Acres” trustee candidates Patti Meroni, Joe Messer and Karen Selman (see Winning Barrington Hills slate get warning and Elections board votes in favor of complaints against Save 5 Acres).

While these complaints were filed prior to the election on April 5, 2011, the State  deferred rulings and remedies on the complaints until after the candidates were elected by residents.  The State gave the candidates a wrist slapping.

Read the full Observer editorial here.

Editorial note:  The two-year probation period imposed on the “Save5Acres for Barrington Hills Trustees” committee by the Illinois State Board of Elections in 2011 expired earlier this month on October 20.

East Dundee, Barrington Hills Spar Over Plan For Auto Auction Yard – 2012

Two neighboring northwest suburbs have been battling over a business that one village said is a potential threat to the safety of the area’s drinking water.

Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) has announced plans to relocate its auto auction yard to the only section of East Dundee that sits in Cook County.

To view the full CBS Chicago report, click here.

Firefighter injured in Barrington Hills barn fire – 2012

RidgeRdBarnFireA firefighter was slightly injured in a four-alarm barn fire in Barrington Hills Wednesday morning.

The fire was called in at 8:18 a.m. in the 21000 block of Ridge Road, said Fire Chief Jim Arie, who was at the scene with the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District.

Read original Observer post with links to a Chicago Tribune article and NBC Chicago video here.

–     The Observer

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East Dundee officials amended a complaint against ComEd this week to secure monetary damages, including $500,000 in penalties for the utility denying an easement to Insurance Auto Auctions, a business that sells wrecked vehicles to the highest bidder.

The village filed the complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission in July so a judge would simply overturn the utility’s decision.

Read more here.

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A PDF version of the latest Village newsletter was released today, and a copy can be downloaded here.

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