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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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Aug 22 BOT

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

It’s doubtful the telephony issues have been corrected by the Cecola administration, but readers are welcome to call in and try once again to listen to the meeting.

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Red

Barrington Hills First Lady and Village of Lakemoor Building Permit Coordinator, Stephanie Cecola, was seen running at the start of the 2nd annual, “The Land We Love Run,” earlier this month.

The Summer 2022 edition of the Village Newsletter was recently released. Topics covered include:

  • President’s letter
  • 2nd Annual “The Land We Love Run” recap*
  • Horizon Farm public meeting
  • Tornado preparation tips
  • Donlea Road drainage update
  • Crime prevention, and
  • Pointers on whether permits are required for landscaping or earth moving

A copy can be viewed and downloaded here.

* Event participant results (no First Lady listed??), by category, can be found here.

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BACT Officers

Barrington Area Conservation Trust officers

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • [Vote] Appointment: Matthew Vondra, Plan Commission Chairman Term as Chair expires 04/2023
  • [Vote] A Resolution of Proclamation Appreciating Doctor Pamela Cools for Years of Dedicated Service Resolution 22 –
  • The Land We Love Run Summary

A brief statement of Matthew Vondra’s qualifications for consideration can be viewed here. Without too much detail, we’ll expound on his experience a bit.

Matt is currently Vice President of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT).  Their President is Brian Croll, who is also a Trustee of the Village of Barrington Hills. The BACT Treasurer is Loren Ekstrom, the husband of Village of Barrington Hills Trustee Laura Ekstrom.

The BACT is responsible for, “…creating the largest permanent land preservation easement in the state of Illinois,” known as Horizon Farm, which is now owned and managed under that easement by the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

Note: For the third month in a row, it’s unknown if the telephony issues that have plagued recent meetings have been remedied yet, so callers might encounter issues again.

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May BOT

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • [Vote] A Resolution of Proclamation Appreciating Patrick Hennelly for 22 years of Dedicated Service to the Village of Barrington Hills Resolution 22 –
  • [Vote] Resolution of Proclamation Appreciating Dr. Gwynne H. Johnston for 28 Years of Dedicated Service to the Village of Barrington Hills Resolution 22 –
  • 5K/10K The Land We Love Run

The two gentlemen being recognized for decades of service on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Health have our utmost gratitude and respect for their commitment to the residents of our Village.

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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madigan-bribery-768x576

Ethics reform advocates say they’re disappointed but not surprised little was done during the Illinois legislature’s spring session to curry the public’s trust, even as former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s indictment in March put public corruption back in the spotlight.

But they still hold out hope for the future.

“You would think after what we saw with former Speaker Mike Madigan, there would be a fire under legislators … especially with an election coming up,” Bryan Zarou, director of policy for the Better Government Association, said regarding the inaction on ethics reform.

The BGA plans a new push for ethics reform this summer, with a set of proposals to be considered for the 2023 legislative session.

The subject will soon be brought to the forefront of public attention again, with former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton’s sentencing scheduled for June 21 and Madigan’s next status hearing set for Aug. 2.

Cullerton, a Democrat from Villa Park, pleaded guilty March 8 to a federal embezzlement charge for receiving nearly $250,000 in pay and benefits from the Teamsters union without working for it.

Madigan, once the most powerful politician in Illinois, was indicted on charges of racketeering and bribery and accused of running a “criminal enterprise.” He has pleaded not guilty.

Read more here.

Related:Kane County officials at odds over hiring of IT director’s wife

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OBH

Readers may recall we twice bumped the One Barrington Hills (OBH) committee (Brian Cecola, David Riff, Laura Ekstrom and Tom Strauss) pretty hard when they were delinquent in two consecutive filings required be the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE):

We decided to check in on the committee’s 2022 first quarter reporting (or lack thereof in recent history), and we discovered some very hurried fillings by OBH occurred after our second delinquency post.  The last of those ISBE postings was a long overdue final report submitted and filed by OBH on January 26th, thereby closing their account.

From the time OBH filed their Statement of Organization on February 9th, 2021, to when they submitted their Final Report on January 26th, 2022, they had posted:

  • Two A-1 reports of contributions of $1,000 or more
  • Two D-2 Quarterly reports submitted on time
  • Two D-2 Quarterly reports submitted after the deadline
  • Eight (8) D-2 Quarterly reports submitted with corrections

To view and print a copy of these reports, click here.

Having closed that error fraught chapter in their 2021 campaign, the One Barrington Hills committee expunged all records on their campaign website.  When visiting the former OBH website (click here to attempt), a message appears, either “Warning: Potential Security Risk Ahead” or “This connection is untrusted”.  To view the report, the user must tap, “Accept the Risk and Continue” or “Proceed to (unsafe) site.” Is stonewalling now their new norm?

And just last month, residents reported they couldn’t hear April’s Board of Trustees meeting due to low or no volume when they phoned in, so what are they to make of this?

If the OBH party is sending a less than subtle message to residents, consider it received, Brian, David, Laura, and Tom.  But you’re in for a LONG three (3) more years in office.

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BOT

Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • [Vote] A Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Contract with Corrective Asphalt Materials LLC (CAM) for Pavement Rejuvenation and CRF Application on Select Village Maintained Roads Resolution 22 –
  • [Vote] Board of Health Appointments (4)
  • [Vote] Equestrian Commission Appointments (4)
  • [Vote] Plan Commission Appointments (3)
  • [Vote] Zoning Board of Appeals Appointments (2)
  • [Vote] Police Pension Board Appointments (2)

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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3.2022 BOT

The Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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DAB 11.11.21

Friday we published a letter written by Deputy Clerk and Plan Commission Vice Chair Robin VanCastle (seen here), as submitted to our Board of Trustees (BOT) communicating her concerns over a conflict of interest at our Village Hall. That conflict was corrected months later, but now our series takes a sad turn.

Trustee Debra Buettner passed away unexpectedly on November 11th, 2021, after a rare reaction to chemotherapy ended her life prematurely.  A week later, Village President Pro-Tem, Colleen Konicek Hannigan, sent the following memo to the BOT before they met for their November regular meeting:

“To:    Brian Cecola
Cc:      Anna Paul, Nikki Panos
From: Colleen Konicek
Date:   Thu, Nov 18, 2021 at 8:29 AM
Re:      Trustee Buettner
 

#####

Brian – As Jim stated in his letter (seen here), Deb and I had many conversations over the last several months regarding her need to step down from the BOT and her desire to play a role in finding/vetting a person who she felt exemplified her efforts and dedication to the Village. We discussed several people and the reasons she felt each would or would not best be able to carry on her mission to provide government services in a fair, courteous, and fiscally responsible manner, to be a steward of the land and open spaces, and to protect our zoning laws. Each time, one person rose to the top.

Deb asked that I keep her health condition confidential, which I, of course, honored. Her intent was to meet with you the week before our last meeting to discuss her need to step down and to request that you nominate, and the BOT accept her recommendation of Robin VanCastle to fill her remaining term. Unfortunately, Deb was hospitalized and unable to follow through with that intent prior to passing.

Deb felt Robin would exemplify her position on the Board and would provide a high level of commitment to the Village, which she has already demonstrated. Deb was impressed by Robin’s background in finance as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Itasca Bank & Trust Co. She also valued Robin’s volunteer experience and can-do attitude. Deb, as liaison to the Plan Commission, saw Robin’s work firsthand, and was impressed by her dedication to redrafting of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, and believed Robin had a solid understanding of what makes Barrington Hills so special and how to keep it that way. Deb also thought it important to have a capable female fill the seat.

As you know, Robin has been involved in Village government since 2015, serving on the Heritage & Environs Committee and Plan Commission, as well as being our long-standing Deputy Clerk. She is a CPA with a strong background in finance and is currently on the Board of Directors for Itasca Bank, so she also has a background in working collaboratively at the board level. These were all considerations of Deb’s in determining Robin was the ideal candidate for the seat.

I wanted to go on record with my many conversations with Deb, my endorsement of her recommendation, and my hope that we honor her by seriously considering this appointment. I will very much miss Deb’s presence on our Board. She provided considered guidance and a unique perspective. She felt that Robin would do the same.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions about my discussions with Deb.

I would appreciate this email being disseminated to the rest of the Board members.

Thank you,

#####

Colleen Konicek Hannigan
Trustee, Village of Barrington Hills”

A copy of her memo can be viewed here.

Trustee Buettner served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for four years before being elected to the BOT in 2019.  Considering she had more experience than most on the BOT, she had every right to share her succession preferences.

However, the current Village President, Brian Cecola, decides who to nominate to the BOT (once he obtains the now obligatory approval of the former Village Permit Coordinator, of course).

The question is, who on the BOT considered Trustee Buettner’s recommendation?  It turns out, with the exception of Pro-Tem Konicek, none we can find. Not a single one, and we’ll attempt to determine why in our upcoming installments.

Related: “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 1),” “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 2)

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