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Archive for the ‘Conflict of interest’ 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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The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening in person and via Zoom at 7:00 PM.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

Instructions for accessing the meeting remotely can be found here.

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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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madigan

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

No one embodied what’s wrong with Illinois politics more than Michael Madigan. Political supremacy incarnate, he was unparalleled in his ability to remain on top and unscathed as governors and lawmakers came and went — on occasion, headed to jail.

Through the years, Illinois’ fiscal outlook bottomed out, a pension crisis metastasized, ethics reform languished — and yet Madigan endured.

Now Madigan, retired from lawmaking since early last year, stands indictedThe 79-year-old former House speaker who served in the General Assembly for five decades is accused of turning his state office into a criminal enterprise for his own personal gain. The racketeering charges against him allege a variety of extortion and bribery schemes stretching from 2011 to 2019 that yielded favors and cash for Madigan and his associates.

Madigan vowed to fight the charges. “I adamantly deny these accusations and look back proudly on my time as an elected official, serving the people of Illinois,” he said in a statement released WednesdayHe will have his day in court, beginning with his scheduled arraignment March 9 in U.S. District Court. Joining him will be longtime confidant, Michael McClain, a former state lawmaker and lobbyist who also faces charges in connection with an alleged bribery scheme involving Commonwealth Edison.

In a perfect world, Madigan’s indictment would signal the start of a new era in state politics, where there’s no quarter given to corrupt pols, where the public trust isn’t just a phrase in a campaign pamphlet, but an ideal guiding the service of every state officeholder. But, over the decades, Springfield has been anything but a guarantor of the public trust. If anything Illinois politics has shown itself to be a primer on how to poison the public trust.

Read the rest of the Chicago Tribune editorial here.

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VBH 2022 Road Program

“INVITATION TO BID NOTICE is hereby given that the Village of Barrington Hills will receive sealed Bids until the 18th day of March 2022 at 2:00 p.m. local time at the Village of Barrington Hills, 112 Algonquin Road, Barrington Hills, IL 60010 at which time the Bids will be publicly opened and read aloud for the following project:

VILLAGE OF BARRINGTON HILLS 2022 ROAD PROGRAM Work description: Provide all labor, services and materials necessary for the resurfacing of various roads throughout the Village of Barrington Hills. This work consists of: HMA Surface Removal, Class D Patches, HMA Resurfacing and other associated improvement required to complete the project in accordance with the plans, specifications and all other applicable standards.

The Contract Documents may be inspected and purchased at Trotter and Associates, Inc., 38 W Grand Ave, Fox Lake, IL 60020, beginning February 24, 2022. Contact Amy Whitis at a.whitis@trotter-inc.com to purchase the contract docs. Hard and/or electronic copies are available. Payment for Contract Documents is non-refundable and shall be payable to Trotter and Associates, Inc. in the form of cash, certified check or money order. No partial sets of specifications or drawings will be issued.

The non-refundable cost for plans and specifications is $50.00. Addenda will be issued only to plan holders. Bidders will be required to provide Bid security equal to five (5) percent of the Bid in the form of a Bid Bond written by a company properly licensed in Illinois, a certified check or a cashier’s check.

The successful Bidder must also comply with all the provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act and all wages must comply with the Illinois Department of Labor Prevailing Wages for McHenry, Lake, Cook, and Kane Counties. The Village of Barrington Hills, in accordance with the Laws of the State of Illinois, hereby notifies all Bidders that the Village reserves the right to reject any and all Bids, to waive minor informalities or technicalities, to advertise for new bids, or to request confirmation or clarification from any bidder regarding information contained in a bid.

The Village will affirmatively ensure that the contract entered into pursuant to this advertisement will be awarded to a responsible and responsive Bidder without discrimination on the grounds of race, color or national origin, but the Owner reserves the right to reject any or all Bids received and to waive formalities.

Your Bid will be required to be submitted under a condition of irrevocability for a period of sixty (60) days after submission. Bids shall be received in a sealed envelope addressed to Village of Barrington Hills, 112 Algonquin Road, Barrington Hills, IL 60010 which is marked in the lower left-hand corner EXACTLY as follows:

BID: Village of Barrington Hills 2022 Road Resurfacing Program

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Purchase of stock highlights weakness of Pritzker’s blind-trust arrangement in preventing conflicts of interest for billionaire governor’s holdings.

JBP

The blind trust set up to manage Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast wealth bought stock in one of the state’s biggest Medicaid contractors in 2020, the same year his administration made several decisions that benefited the company’s bottom line.

The purchase of stock in health insurance giant Centene Corp. was made on behalf of the billionaire governor by trustees at Northern Trust, appointed by Pritzker to independently manage his portfolio to separate those investment decisions from his role as the state’s most powerful elected official.

The investment in Centene — which collected more than $2.6 billion from state Medicaid contracts in the first half of 2021 alone — demonstrates the pitfalls of a blind-trust arrangement that still leaves the nation’s richest governor open to potential conflicts of interest.

The acquisition by Pritzker’s trust came despite his campaign pledge to purge his personal portfolio of companies holding state contracts. He also promised, as governor-elect, to make charitable contributions matching gains in his trust’s holdings from entities that hold state contracts.

The issue of stock purchases by elected officials is now being debated in Congress, which is considering an array of strengthened stock disclosure laws aimed at stopping lawmakers from profiting from their access to insider information. The stock holdings of judges and federal banking officials also have come under scrutiny.

Experts interviewed by the Better Government Association say the governor could have avoided the potential conflict by instructing his trust managers to refrain from investing in state contractors. Pritzker’s spokespeople declined to say whether he ever considered doing so.

“I don’t see why a trustee couldn’t operate within those bounds — especially given that he seems to have acknowledged the potential of a conflict with his pledge” to divest of companies that hold state contracts, said Eleanor Eagan of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, based in Washington, D.C.

Neither Pritzker representatives nor the managers of his trust would say how much the investment in Centene is worth to Pritzker’s bottom line. They also declined to say specifically when the stock purchase was made.

Read more from the Better Government Association here.

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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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JB Payoff

Saying private dollars shouldn’t be used to pay public employees, an Illinois lawmaker has introduced legislation that would prevent Gov. J.B. Pritzker from paying state employees out of his pocket on top of the salaries taxpayers already pay for.

Pritzker doles out $1.5 million a year to subsidize the salaries of 15 employees in his administration in addition to the $1.6 million taxpayers pay.

Senate Bill 2213 introduced by state Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, provides that no state employee may receive compensation from any private party for their work within the scope of his or her employment by a state agency.

“Pretty audacious that it is even happening, but on top of that, the complete lack of transparency on the issue is what really caught my attention as well,” said Plummer.

During a recent appropriations committee hearing, Pritzker Chief of Staff Anne Caprara, who is getting more than half of her nearly $300,000 salary from the governor, contended the practice follows all ethical guidelines.

“His priorities are retaining and attracting the best possible people to work for state government and to work for his office personally,” said Caprara.

Pritzker, who ranked 318th on Forbes 400 richest people in America list in 2021 with a net worth of $3.6 billion, is heir to the Hyatt hotel chain.

Read more here.

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Cuba Road

Cuba Road east of Rte. 14 is plowed by Cuba Township

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Cuba Road west of Rte. 14 in our village is currently plowed by Mac’s

For nearly fifteen years, our Village benefitted from the snow plowing services provided by the Cuba Township Road District.  Inexplicably, in September of last year, Trustees Ekstrom, Croll, Riff and Strauss awarded our snow plowing services contract to Mac’s Property Management Services of Wauconda. The results have been abysmal.

The images above best illustrate the new service experienced by our residents this Winter. After a recent snow event, Cuba Township plowed Cuba Road east of Route 14 Lake Barrington, and the photo at top shows the results of their work.  A photo was then taken of Cuba Road in our Village within minutes of the first photo capture, and it was plowed by Mac’s.  The difference is significant and concerning.

At best, Mac’s snow plowing services have been consistently shoddy, with slow (or sometimes no) service being the experience of many residents.  Lack of deicing is an oft heard complaint, and as recent as Friday’s afternoon snowfall, many witnessed their own driveways being plowed before Mac’s employees bothered to show up.

We cannot allow substandard service on our Village roads. The modest decrease in expense does not justify the liability our Board of Trustees has exposed our residents to.

Our Village does have an “out” clause with Mac’s, but Roads & Bridges Chair, Laura Ekstrom, couldn’t recall if it was 30 or 60 days.  The point is moot, however, since by the time our Village Attorney sorts it out, Mac’s will be mowing lawns.

The decision to discontinue Cuba Township’s services has been a huge error in judgement, and we’re being generous in that assessment.  We’re just fortunate we don’t have to call it a tragic one (yet).

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Snow Plow

The 2021-2022 Winter Season will be a topic of discussion today at 4 PM at Village Hall.

The Roads & Bridges Committee will meet today at 4:00 PM.  The only two topics on their agenda are:

  • 2021-2022 Winter Season
  • 2022 Road Program

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

Audio recordings from some previous R&B meetings are now available for review.  The December 13th, 2021, recording can be heard here, and the recording from the October 14th meeting where a resident first voiced concerns over switching snow plow services can be heard here.

Residents who would like to publicly comment on the new snow plowing contractor’s performance this year or other items can do so at the meeting, or they email the committee chair at lekstrom@barringtonhills-il.gov prior to the meeting.

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