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Archive for the ‘Building Department’ Category

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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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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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MM BC

Brian Cecola and Martin McLaughlin – May 3rd, 2021

Prior to leaving office as Village President on May 3rd, 2021, Martin McLaughlin penned a heartfelt letter to incumbent and newly elected Village Board of Trustee members which read as follows:

Dear President-Elect Cecola and Newly-Elected Trustees:

I congratulate  you on your  election and wish you all the  best of luck in your new endeavor. I know that you will perform your duties to the highest standards  of  public service.  I  wanted  to  advise you that with a change In leadership comes the necessity to acknowledge that there Is a significant issue related to the employment of the Village President-Elect’s wife, Stephanie Cecola.   Stephanie Cecola has been employed on a part-time, hourly basis in  the  Building Department, having reported directly to  the Village  Administrator, who reports to the Village President. This position was not an issue when Brian was a Trustee but now with Brian signing his wife’s paychecks, and with Stephanie directly reporting to her husband through our Village Administrator, this is an issue which needs to  be addressed promptly and publicly.  Whether  or not· this  line of oversight is determined  to  be technically  illegal, I believe it causes a significant  perception of nepotism and self-dealing that can have an impact on how our Village is seen by Its residents, and, just as importantly, can cause Internal issues between departments. I have the greatest respect for Brian and Stephanie and call them personal friends, however, I believe that not addressing this Issue head-on would be problematic.

The perception of any possible impropriety is extremely significant, and in in my opinion, may become a problem for this administration. Further, our community does not need this employment matter  as  a distraction to the important issues the Board will be facing over the next few years regarding legal decisions with commercial horse boarding and group home issues, in addition to other major community questions.

I have personally made my concerns known to our new President, Brian Cecola. In addition, I have made my concerns known to your Village Administrator, Anna Paul.  It  is up  to  them, and you, as a body to address this in a direct and timely fashion. In my opinion, not addressing this important issue will not only create distrust, concern and questions, whether they are valid or not, and will potentially taint the great works that many of us have accomplished as a group over the past eight years. Along with this letter to you, I have attached a job posting that I believe should be made, but I will leave this decision to you, President-Elect Cecola and Board members.

I know that you as a group will do great things and continue the stewardship of this Village. I am proud to caH each of you friends, and more importantly, Trustees and President.

With sincere appreciation, humility and best regards,

###

Martin J. McLaughlin
Village President of Barrington Hills”

His letter was never read publicly. The contents have never been discussed in open board meetings according to available audio recordings.

Yet despite what many believed was a conflict of interest(s) present at Village Hall at that time, no changes whatsoever were made to remedy the situation McLaughlin cautioned Trustees of until nearly six months later.  None.

We obtained our first copy of McLaughlin’s letter in the Spring of last year. However, we chose not to publish it believing (naively as it turns out) our Village President and Board would take appropriate action. We were wrong.

Though the situation was eventually corrected, it’s the actions, inaction and decisions of most of our board members since May that have lead to publishing the letter today. A copy can be viewed here.

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Wasted Contributions

Brian Cecola, David Riff, Laura Ekstrom and Tom Strauss

For the second quarter in a row, the One Barrington Hills (OBH) Committee comprised of Brian Cecola, David Riff, Laura Ekstrom and Tom Strauss, failed to meet the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) deadline for filing quarterly financial reports due this week. The committee’s 4th quarterly report was due on Tuesday, January 18th, but instead was filed just yesterday afternoon.

Their 3rd quarter report was filed a week late on October 22nd, 2021, and that was likely due only to The Observer bumping them with our friendly reminder post that day.

In their latest filing, OBH reported it had $4,432.86 in donor cash available.  A copy of that report can be viewed here, however this is before the ISBE assesses any civil penalties as they no doubt will now.

We spoke with a representative of the ISBE earlier this week, and they indicated sometimes first committee violations are stayed.  However, if a second violation occurs, they will assess the fees for both violations. Noteworthy is the ISBE has increasing penalties for multiple committee violations, which will now be in play. A copy of, “Section 125.425 Civil Penalty Assessments,” may be viewed and downloaded here.

Current Village President, Brian D. Cecola, is listed as chair of the OBH committee, and David Riff is listed as treasurer according to the ISBE website. It’s likely both will have some penalty paperwork to fill out, some checks to write, and they’ll likely have to appear at a ISBE hearing to account for their negligence.

However, we submit all four members of the OBH committee bear some responsibility, and we believe their missteps go deeper than that we’ve just reported.  Starting next week, we’ll begin revealing why based on FOIA files we’ve obtained in the last year and audio recordings.

Meantime, any concerned donors to the OBH 2021 campaign can always seek refunds by contacting them at Team@barrington-hills.com. While it may seem premature to some now, perhaps what’s reported next week may change that thinking.

Related:(Most) Village candidate committees report Q-3 financials

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BOT 12.14.21

Our Village Board of Trustees meets this evening at 6:30 PM.  Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • [Vote] An Ordinance for the Levy and Assessment of Taxes for the Fiscal Year Beginning January 1, 2021 and Ending December 31, 2021 Ordinance 21 –
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Amending Driveway Permit and Design Regulations as set Forth in Title 10 of the Village’s Municipal Code Ordinance 21 –
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Amending Sections 5-2-1, 5-3-9, 5-3-13, 5-5-2 and 5-5-11 of the Village’s Zoning Regulations Ordinance 21 –
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Granting an Amendment to an Existing Special Use Permit to Allow an Addition to Countryside Elementary School, 205 W. County Line Road Ordinance 21 – (72 Hours after the ZBA approved it)
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Adding Requirements for Road Access Permits Amending Title 4, Building Regulations of the Village’s Municipal Code Ordinance 21 –
  • [Vote] An Ordinance Approving a Final Plat of Re-subdivision: Shah Consolidation: 41 & 45 Hawthorne Lane Ordinance 21- (48 Hours after the PC approved it)
  • [Vote] A Resolution Approving the Execution of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for Maintenance with Cuba Township Road District
    Resolution 21 –

It bears mentioning that two of the items the BOT may be voting on tonight were approved just this week by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Plan Commission.  Since audio recordings and minutes are not yet available from these two meetings, the board members will not have the support of that documentation if votes occur.

The complete 179-page agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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BOT 8.23.21The 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 Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Service Agreement with
    Lauterbach & Amen, LLP to Provide Services Attendant with the office of
    Village Treasurer Resolution 21 –
  • A Resolution consenting to the Appointment of Wes Levy of Lauterbach & Amen, LLP to the Office of Village Treasurer Resolution 21 –
  • Plan Commission Appointment: Christopher Geier – Term Expires April 2023, and
  • Resolution of Proclamation Congratulating Barrington Hills Country Club on the Occasion of its Centennial Year 1921 – 2021 Resolution 21 –

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

Related:Barrington Hills Country Club Celebrates Its Centennial

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