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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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11.22 BOT

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. A copy of their agenda can be viewed and downloaded here, however residents should take special note of their draft 2023 Budget, particularly as it relates to Roads & Bridges where at least one expense is up over 100%.

By far one of the largest increases is in, “Road Maintenance Contracts.” This year’s budget is $661,000. But the proposed amount next year is $1,059,200. That’s an increase of $398,200.

“Mowing/Cleanup Contracts,” is going from $70,00 this year to more than double that in 2023 at $150,000.

In an effort to understand the underlying reasons for these and other increases, we listened to the recordings of the nearly two (2) hour November 8th Special Meeting of the Roads & Bridges Committee yesterday.   What we found revealed largely incoherent rambling (as usual) by the chair.  As of this posting, the audio now states, “Unsupported audio,” as seen in this link, unfortunately, but some who heard the recording might consider this a blessing.

Hopefully this evening we’ll learn why such exorbitant roads increases are being proposed, but beforehand we’d like to share some advice with the Roads & Bridges Chair in the form quote from a famous Thanksgiving movie that goes, “…when you’re telling these little stories, here’s a good idea. Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!

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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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IL 10th Sin

Illinois is in the top ten in the U.S. for sin, according to a new report from WalletHub.

The report lists Illinois at No. 10 for most sinful states. “Sin” was separated into several different categories, including anger & hatred, jealousy, lust, vanity and vices, laziness, and greed. Researchers used those metrics to determine the amount of sin in each state.

Researcher Jill Gonzales explained Illinois’ ranking.

“The areas where they are more on the sinful side includes anger and hatred, jealousy, vanity, and lust,” Gonzales said.

While Illinois struggled in those areas, there were other areas where the state did well.

“Actually access in vices, such as smoking or binge drinking, that is where Illinois is actually not as sinful and doing better in those two categories,” Gonzales said.

That’s despite Illinois licensed cannabis dispensaries selling more than $2.1 billion in the drug since being made legal in 2020. More than $643 million of those total sales were to out-of-state residents.

Illinois has seen a tremendous amount of violent crimes, which impacted the state’s ranking, Gonzales said.

“Violent crimes and things like hate crimes would be part of the anger and hatred category,” Gonzales said. “That is an area where Illinois did see a spike.”

Read more here.

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Berwyn Brian & Big Red

Monday we posted a letter written by former Village President Martin McLaughlin to members of our Board of Trustees (BOT) advising them of a conflict of interest at Village Hall (a copy can be found here).  Less than two months later, a resident sent a similar letter to the BOT, which she also read in public at the June 28th, 2021, BOT meeting.

Robin VanCastle, who is Deputy Village Clerk of our Village and Vice Chair of the Plan Commission, wrote the following:

“Board of Trustees of Barrington Hills###

I am concerned with the conflict of interest in the building permit coordinator, Stephanie Cecola, being the wife of the Village President, Brian Cecola. It is completely inappropriate for an elected official to supervise and sign the paycheck of a family member. This is a question of ethics, not legality. It is not just about impropriety; it is about the appearance of impropriety.

I volunteer as the Deputy Village Clerk and serve as a member of the Plan Commission. I do this because I love the Village and I do this for free. I am surprised that the building permit coordinator did not step down from her position after her husband was elected as Village President. If the residents of the Village knew about this conflict, I believe they would not approve. I support the hiring of a new building permit coordinator that is not related to any of the Trustees.

I have filed a FOIA request for any documentation pertaining to questions of conflicts of interest between elected officials and their spouses.

I plan to attend the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, June 28th to emphasize my commitment to this issue.

Sincerely,

#####

Robin VanCastle”

A copy of her letter can be seen here.  Her comments to the BOT can be heard at the at the 00:40 minute mark of the recording here.

Once again, no comments were made in public by our BOT in any record we’ve found.  None! Months would pass before corrective measures were taken.

It should be noted that Ms. VanCastle wasn’t backstopping McLaughlin’s private position with the BOT. His letter was only made public this past Monday, eight months after it was written. She chose to convey her feelings shared by most in our Village at the time in a very public way, and she has our utmost respect for that.

If readers are sensing déjà vu about now, it’s due to the fact that we posted her comments in July (seeAgreed”). We chose to remind readers now since it’s critical to reaching the conclusions we have when our series continues next week.

Related:Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 1)

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TP

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle

 

Cook County issued new rules effective Jan. 3 requiring people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter county restaurants, fitness centers, and bars or entertainment and recreational venues serving food to reduce spiraling cases.

“Earlier this year, we had hoped that we were on a path to finally put the pandemic behind us,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday.

“But unfortunately, with the dual threat presented by the Delta and Omicron variants, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising to new heights across Cook County, we must once again reassess and realign our strategies with what the science is telling us.”

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 16,581 new COVID-19 cases. It’s the second highest daily count since the pandemic began.

Contributing to the latest virus surge is the omicron variant, which is extremely contagious and causing about 73% of new infections in the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted similar rules.

Read more here.

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Flock

A Flock Safety license plate reader camera uses a proprietary algorithm to identify a license plate, vehicle make, type and color.

Lake County officials want to know more about how data is used before determining whether automatic license plate readers should be allowed on county-owned highway rights of way.

Members of the county board’s public works, transportation and planning committee agree high-speed cameras can help law enforcement but are wary of unintended consequences involving potential privacy issues.

“There are some concerns of who has access to this information and when,” said committee member John Wasik of Grayslake.

“Our responsibility is things are not always used as intended,” said committee member Ann Maine of Lincolnshire.

The high-speed, computer-controlled cameras capture license plate numbers, location, date and time, a photograph of the vehicle, the driver and/or passengers.

In early October, the county staff was directed to study the possibility of allowing readers to be installed along several county highways in Zion’s municipal limit. The city already has readers in its jurisdiction and wants to add more.

“The push to our community is to improve the safety of citizens by using technology,” Zion police Chief Eric Barden told the committee.

Several other communities also have notified the Lake County Division of Transportation they are considering using the readers, according to Shane Schneider, director of transportation and county engineer.

Read more here.

Related:Libertyville police planning license plate readers at five locations

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brainwashing 3000

Carpentersville parents Yosuf Chaudhry and Amena Alvi are speaking out about a former history teacher at their daughter’s school whom accuse of proselytizing through a school club. The Muslim couple are suing Community Unit District 300 and former Jacobs High School teacher Pierre Thorsen. (Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer)

Carpentersville parents Yosuf Chaudhry and Amena Alvi got the shock of their lives when they learned their 15-year-old daughter had renounced her Islamic faith and secretly converted to Christianity.

But how the conversion happened was more worrisome for the Muslim couple, who are accusing a former Jacobs High School history teacher of using his position to proselytize to their daughter and other students through a Christian school club.

After nearly two years of silence, the parents are speaking out about how their family life has been disrupted. The Daily Herald was unable to speak with the couple’s daughter, who, according to her parents, has declined to discuss the matter with the media, and even with them or with counselors.

The couple filed a complaint in federal court last October against Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300, outgoing Superintendent Fred Heid and former Jacobs history teacher Pierre Thorsen. It alleges, among other things, violations of the couple’s rights under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They accuse the district and Heid of establishing a custom of promoting and advancing Christianity and religion through hiring and retaining Thorsen and allowing him to “promote evangelical Christianity while denigrating other religions for over 20 years.”

The couple say their concern is not their daughter’s conversion itself, but the circumstances that suggest the teenager was being pressured by the teacher about personal religious decisions. They said she previously never had taken an active interest in learning about religion, though she had been allowed the space to develop a personal relationship with God at her own pace in the Islamic tradition. She also hadn’t independently researched other faiths to come to that conclusion, the couple say.

They claim Thorsen, while acting in his capacity as a public school teacher at the Algonquin high school, groomed and indoctrinated their daughter since her freshman year.

Read more here.

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It seems that Barrington Hills Park District officials believe the less residents are informed, the better off they are.

The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening via Zoom at 7 PM.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here, but just as we’ve cautioned repeatedly, don’t expect much information.  

There are no minutes available from the February meeting for the public to review online, nor is a recording of the Zoom meeting. The District WAS kind enough to include taxpayers with their 2019 Annual Financial Statement (found here) when we pointed out one of their lapses in transparency last month.

Information on how to join the Zoom meetings tonight can be found here.

We should also note that last week the District Advisory Committee met on March 2nd.  The notice can be found here, but there was no agenda posted nor any minutes. Even more disappointing, when searching the District website (found here), there’s no information to be found on this Committee. 

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Because so many students at Barrington High School are choosing all-virtual learning, seniors who had chosen hybrid learning now have the option to go full day, five days a week, and juniors can expect the same soon, officials said. (Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer)

Barrington High School junior Austin Molinaro knew that going back to in-person learning was going to be different, what with face masks, social distancing and all the rest. He didn’t expect it to be so disheartening.

“I’m not going to lie — it wasn’t fun at all … ” Austin said. “It just felt like a ghost town when you were walking through the hallways.”

 Students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 had the option of starting hybrid learning last week — meaning alternately going to school and learning from home — or sticking with all-virtual learning. Austin is among a minority who returned to Barrington High.

The district has had all-virutal learning this year with the exception of a few days in October. High school Principal Steve McWilliams said families who said they preferred in-person learning dropped from 75% last summer, to just over 60% in October, to 46% in December. For seniors, it’s about 40%, he said.

Because so many are staying home, the district announced Friday that seniors at Barrington High now have the option to go full-day, five days a week. Juniors can expect to have the same option soon, McWilliams said.

So why are so many students, especially seniors, choosing to stay home? A variety of reasons, McWilliams said, adding the same is happening at other suburban high schools.

Read more here.

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