Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

On December 28, a social media post invited residents to attend a hearing of the Barrington Hills Electoral Board scheduled for December 31 at 1:00 PM at Village Hall. The invitation emanated from a Facebook page and read:

I was served challenge papers to my petition for Trustee. The hearing is Monday at 1p.m at Vhall. Support me and condone this miscarriage of justice by this Administration! Shame! “ 

Linda H. Cools

The Facebook post was deleted within hours after publishing. However, the Village calendar confirmed the date and time of the hearing of the Electoral Board, which, as we later learned, was to review a complaint challenging the petition of trustee candidate, Linda H. Cools, due to alleged violations of election rules.

The complaint alleged Cools had turned in her petition with an excess of signatures over what is allowed on the nomination ballots and that her signed statement of economic interest was filed in the wrong county. It seems filing campaign paperwork that does not comply with Illinois statute was also the reason Cools was not on the ballot and could only run as a write-in candidate for trustee in 2017.

After the hearing began, Cools indicated she would like the opportunity to speak and to state her case. Village Counsel advised her that she first needed to be sworn in and Cools was sworn in by the Electoral Board’s official court reporter, taking an oath, declaring that her testimony would be truthful. Cools asked some preliminary questions of the Village Attorney and was reminded prior to giving her statement by the attorney that “all the statements that you make will be under oath and is considered testimony.” To which she responded: “Okay. Can I proceed? Do I have a time limit in how much time I can speak?”

The attorney responded she had no time limit but needed to keep her testimony relevant to the issues raised by the complaint. Cools then proceeded to give her testimony:

Electoral Board, my name is Linda H. Cools. I’m a resident candidate for Village trustee in the Village of Barrington Hills. Although I have not been properly served by the Sheriff of McHenry County as required based upon the requirements outlined by the State of Illinois Board of Election, proper service was not executed; therefore, the hearing should be dismissed solely upon that one singular fact. 

However, I intend to strenuously refute the objector’s petition regardless of this Board’s decision whether by appeal and presentation as part of the official public record.  

This is not an impartial, independent board but rather one with a vested interest in this outcome.   Nevertheless, I appear in good faith before you to present my oral argument against the objector’s petition.   I’m going to skip to the next page if you give me a second to do that. 

To summarize, there are four points I wish to put into the Village record. The first is the filing dates of the objector were not met per Illinois Election Guide. Point No. 2, service upon Candidate Linda H. Cools was improper and nonexistent at best.   Point No. 3, regarding the allegation of excessive signatures, candidate feels the objector is grasping at straws.   The objector does not adhere to the rule to quit counting once the minimum has been attained. And point No. 4, the ambiguity of where to file the statement of economic interest falls on the shoulders of the Village president/Electoral Board for clarity; and that is my final statement.”

Once Cools completed her testimony, the three members of the Electoral Board consisting of Village President Martin McLaughlin, President Pro-tem Colleen Konicek Hannigan and Village Clerk Nikki Panos, were allowed to ask question of Cools:

Konicek Hannigan: Ms. Cools, are you denying that you received service of the objection?

Cools: I was not aware of any service or any receipt of any service.

Konicek Hannigan: So you’ve never received a copy of the objection?

Cools: I have not.

Konicek Hannigan:   Then why are you here today?

Cools:  I received an email. I have an email notifying me from the grapevine that I was to appear here, but I did not receive anything in writing or any other information to come here to the Village. I have not received proper service.

Konicek Hannigan:  Okay. You’ve actually written in public blogs about having been served with an objection.

Cools:  What public blogs? I don’t run a public blog.

Konicek Hannigan:    On Facebook?

Cools:  I don’t run any public blog.

Konicek Hannigan:   On social media?

Cools:  I run no public blogs.

Konicek Hannigan:   On social media?

Cools: I don’t run any social blog, social media, print media, nothing.

Konicek Hannigan:       Okay. So the Facebook page Linda Cools for Barrington Hills Trustee is not your page?

Cools: I have no information to share on that.

Konicek Hannigan:    Okay. Are you denying that that’s your Facebook page?

Cools:  I have no information to share on that. 

The truth is there are a number of social media websites that contain Linda Cools’ name and photos portraying her image as pictured below in a recent Facebook posting that we captured a screenshot of:

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

(Since Cools testified under oath that she does not run any “social blog, social media, print media, nothing,” we strongly suggest she contact the proper authorities immediately and that she have these records copied for evidence before requesting they be removed by Facebook and Twitter.)

As for the two filing errors, the Electoral Board continued the hearing to January 8, 2019, and allowed the objector and respondent to file additional statements. At that hearing, the Electoral Board voted unanimously to allow Cools to amend her statement of economic interest, and held, on advice from the Village Attorney, that the excess number of petition signatures would not act as a bar to Cools’ being on the ballot, despite the fact that it was a clear violation of Illinois statutes and election rules. The Village Attorney referenced a federal court case that discussed striking a candidate for having excessive signatures as being unconstitutional. He also stated that there was a clear discrepancy in federal and state law and that Illinois case law favored striking her name from the ballot, but the U.S. Constitution was the law of the land. Still, this does not change the fact that statements were made by Cools, under oath, in a public forum while giving her testimony on December 31, 2018.

As a side note, someone once said the Illinois Board of Elections would likely approve a candidate’s paperwork if it was written in crayon. If this is true, given Ms. Cools’ problems completing paperwork accurately in two consecutive Village campaigns, she might be well advised to invest in a box of Crayola Crayons (preferably no more than 10 colors, PLEASE) the next time she must file for nomination in 2020.

It should be noted that some time after the December 30th hearing Cools retained an attorney who appeared on her behalf at the continued hearing of the Electoral Board on January 8, 2019.  At that time, prior to proceeding with argument, Cools’ attorney withdrew certain statements Cools made at the prior hearing to the effect that the Electoral Board was “not an impartial, independent board but rather one with a vested interest in this outcome.” Cools’ attorney agreed that there was no evidence to substantiate the comments, and Cools herself agreed on January 8th that she had nothing to support those statements and they would be withdrawn.

 

Related: “Barrington Hills candidate fights to stay on ballot

Barrington Hills trustee candidate survives effort to knock her off the ballot

 

 

Read Full Post »

Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 2.45.14 PMOnce again, supporters of former Village President Bob Abboud have taken to the social media networks to begin creating a false controversy to stir the pot prior to the 2019 Village Board Elections.

Recently, some Facebook pages have started publishing information about the proposed Plum Farms Development in Hoffman Estates. One of these pages is purportedly run by the same individual who publicly cast aspersions upon the character of the Village President and members of the Board of Trustees in April of 2017 (but was unwilling and unable to provide any corroboration of her ridiculous accusations). See April 24th Board meeting recordings released.

Long-time readers of the Observer will recognize the same tired tactics of the Abboud-o-philes: create a false controversy, then stir up resident sentiment against current leadership and against those whom they may support in the upcoming elections. Save 5 Acres! Save Horse Boarding! Ban the Bikes! Save Open Space! Save Polo!

The Plum Farms Development in Hoffman Estates was used as a major 2017 campaign issue by Trustees Paula Jacobsen and Robert Zubak, but both have been eerily silent on the issue for well over a year. As candidates, Jacobsen and Zubak were so adamant about the Village having legal standing, authority and ability to impact this development, and they vowed to be the voices to vigorously “oppose harmful development”.

Today, as it was then, they chose to remain ignorant to the simple fact that this issue was over in 2004 when Bob Abboud and former administrator Bob Kosin botched the chance to work with the landowner to come to a development compromise that would have kept the property within the village, and would have protected our community from the dangers of deannexation of the parcel into an adjacent town with an insatiable hunger for more tax dollars.

But in fact, the current administration has been working in concert with South Barrington and District 220 to slow the progress of this development.  Strange that this hasn’t been reported by any of the social media outlets managed by those folks who enjoy stirring the pot.  Accusations of inaction and mismanagement by President McLaughlin and others on the Board will be aired, but nary a word of criticism of Jacobsen or Zubak.

And speaking of Jacobsen, the more vocal of the less-than-dynamic duo, what has she personally done with regard to Plum Farms as a Trustee? Nothing.  She bemoaned the Longmeadow Parkway project as a candidate, but did she volunteer to be on the IDOT advisory board for Route 62?  Nope.

Does anyone remember the laundry list of issues that she & Zubak used as their campaign platform? We do.

YBH_issues

The only issue they are truly interested in is commercial horse boarding, which wasn’t in their campaign platform at all.  Strange…

And back to that lengthy list of issues — what have they accomplished from that list? Nothing. And why?  Because none of those “problems” actually existed.

21558735_208149243054416_8233545302995328152_n

Paula Jacobsen with former trustee Fritz Gohl

However, Jacobsen, who has been absent from more than 26% of the fifteen Board Meetings held since she was elected as trustee, has had the opportunity to advocate for some other interesting issues.  As stated in our previous articles, May and June 2017 Board meeting recordings released  and July Board Meeting recordings released , she has found time to question the meeting minutes which characterized her friend’s public comments at the April 24thboard meeting as slanderous.  She has questioned why the Village couldn’t have employed a warmer and fuzzier process to inform a property owner of their violation of a cease and desist order with regard to illegal demolition of a residence and violation of the tree ordinance. It should be noted that the property owner in that case was a prominent donor to her trustee campaign.

Jacobsen has pondered the complexity of the Exterior Lighting Ordinance and wondered if it shouldn’t be revisited and revised, oblivious to the divisive history of the ordinance.  Coincidentally, her interest in lighting ordinance enforcement occurred only when another friend of hers had filed a complaint against a neighbor.

Paula has also suggested giving landmark status to historical homes in the village.  When asked to explain who would be the arbiter of this distinction and the mechanics of implementation or enforcement, she had no suggestion.

She also has given detailed reports of Arbor Day plans by the Heritage & Environs Committee at no fewer than three meetings. Let’s hear it for the oak sapling giveaway!!

And there has been advocacy for costly live video-streaming of Village Board meetings, which are only attended by a handful of the same residents each month.

It is not surprising that NONE of these issues were in the Jacobsen/Zubak campaign platform and that NONE of the issues in the platform have been pursued by the duo in any meaningful way in the past fifteen months.

And why is that? Because a quiet village operating harmoniously is not something the Abboud-o-philes can tolerate.  They must have controversy and they will create controversy were none exists. And when faced with the reality that President McLaughlin & this Administration have delivered on each and every promise they have made to the community, they pivot back to the old worn-out talking points. The village is operating better than it ever has, spending has been slashed and services are more efficient.  And that makes some embittered people very unhappy.  Change is not easy for some. And they are desperate to regain control.

So the pot stirring will continue.  With a little eye of newt and toe of frog mixed in for good measure.  Here’s hoping that this bad spell will be broken soon.

Read Full Post »

While things have been calm at the Barrington Hills Village Hall these days, it seems as though there is trouble brewing over at the Barrington Hills Park District. It has been reported to the Observer that at last Wednesday night’s meeting of the Park District Board, board members voted unanimously to impose a facility rental fee for this year’s Barrington Honor Ride & Run (BHRR) – the annual community event that raises funds for the national organization Project Hero/Ride to Recovery Charity.  Project Hero is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization which benefits Veterans and First Responders impacted by bodily injuries, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).  Project Hero’s events help these heroes rehabilitate and regain physical and mental health through cycling, and they raise funds to provide participants with customized equipment and specially modified bicycles needed due to injuries, as well as medical and psychiatric care.

honor_2

Trustee Colleen Konicek, the event organizer for the BHRR, was out of town on business, but Village President McLaughlin, Trustee Brian Cecola and Equestrian Commission member Stephanie Cecola and Veteran and former South Barrington trustee Bob Crowther appeared on Konicek’s behalf before the Barrington Hills Park District (BHParkDist)Board to inquire whether the members would consider waiving the rental fee for the 2018 event which has applied for rental of a portion of the Park District facility on August 12.  BHParkDist had previously explained that because the BHRR is not “in-district” and it charges event participants a fee, they would be charged a rental fee of $550, but they could request a waiver of the fee from the Park Board.

BHParkDist Vice President Steve Allen stated that the group was out of District, thereby necessitating a rental fee, and that the national organization had reported raising over 3 million dollars in recent filings and that they “weren’t hurting for money”.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 3.17.58 PM

Dennis Kelly

BHParkDist President Dennis Kelly mentioned that the participation fee charged by BHRR as one of the many reasons he was against waiving the fee for the group.

Village President McLaughlin reminded both board members that every dollar raised and saved goes to the Vets.  Further, he stated that the total amount raised per year locally by the BHRR was around $40,000. Stephanie Cecola said it was unfathomable that a group of individuals who have given so much to protect us would NOT be given consideration to have the fee waived.  Dennis Kelly stated that every 501(c) (3) would be treated the same and that he was “watching out for the taxpayers”.

McLaughlin (who rarely appears to speak at meetings of other public bodies) requested special consideration on behalf of our veterans.  He mentioned that this event is an example of how our community can put its best foot forward by hosting and supporting our military.  He also mentioned how much positive press and feedback the village receives from hosting this event.  He further asked that if the board was so compelled to charge a fee that perhaps park district board members might consider a personal donation to offset the fee.  Only board member Jessica Underwood was open to consider that idea, but Dennis Kelly quickly shut down her inquiry and called for a vote. The Park District Board, consisting of Dennis Kelly, Steve Allen, Jessica Underwood, John Rosene and Gigi Iacovelli voted unanimously to impose the rental fee for this public facility.

Brian Cecola along with McLaughlin and Crowther have donated hundreds of volunteer hours to this event over the years, and all three were equally disgusted by the intransigent position of the board.

McLaughlin said it was just disappointing to see a group of individuals misrepresent the generous nature of the vast majority of residents in Barrington Hills for some personal undisclosed agenda. He, along with Cecola, Crowther and Konicek were considering personally covering the rental fees so that the event could continue in Barrington Hills without cost to the charity.

The Barrington Honor Ride is a great event for a great cause. Quite frankly, we don’t understand how the Park District could ever consider imposing a fee on these heroes. If you have attended the event, you will never forget the sight of these warriors who have lost limbs and suffered life-altering injuries, saluting the flag as the National Anthem is performed before the event commences.

We question the motivation of these members of the Park District Board to deny a waiver of the fee after being informed that every dollar saved goes to our vets.

This Park District receives roughly $210,000 of our tax dollars each year, and these board members are elected to represent our community. They may try to rationalize the imposition of the $550 fee as a fiscally responsible act, but keep in mind that this is the Park District that only charges private horse trainers $100 annually to use our Riding Center for conduct their personal for-profit lessons at our taxpayer funded Riding Center.  And one of those trainers happens to be Park District Board Member Jessica Underwood.

And, is it only coincidence that one of the Park District’s two paid administrative employees is Kim Keper, who happens to be the wife of BHParkDist VP Steve Allen?

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 3.59.16 PM Or consider board member John Rosene, who is notorious for playing fast and loose with facts when it comes to village politics. Rosene has been reprimanded by the Polo association for his inappropriate sending of political emails to the private email addresses of minors, and is no longer allowed to hold a leadership position in the polo club.

And, this same BHParkDist Board recently did away with the $70 rebate program that minimally reimbursed BH residents for a portion of out-of-district rates charged when they participated in other neighboring park districts’ programs — programs which our district doesn’t offer because of their single-minded obsession with equestrian sports.

And, this is the same Park District Board that is considering the feasibility of installing an outdoor polo arena at the Riding Center (see Minutes January 2018).  More polo!  Well, if that isn’t “watching out for the taxpayers”, we don’t know what is.

Now, with this shameful vote, this Park District has failed our vets and they have failed the taxpayers of this village. Be assured, the Observer will remind the community of this selfish action in 2019 when the next election for Park District Board is held.

Read Full Post »

Tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting will be the first official meeting for the village’s new engineering firm, Trotter & Associates.  We look forward to seeing their approach to municipal engineering and we hope that taxpayers will benefit from lowered costs and fresh ideas.

GHAWhile researching future content for the Observer, we stumbled across some interesting correspondence regarding Barrington Hills Farm (BHFW LLC) and our village’s former engineering firm, Gewalt Hamilton.  What we found is shocking, but it certainly makes the Village’s decision last year to change engineering companies very wise indeed.

According to documents found on McHenry County’s website, in December 2015, BHFW’s Chairman J. R. Davis was applying to McHenry County to convert part of an existing wetland on the property into a recreational pond.  As a result, some mitigation of the wetlands was necessary.  The specifics of the mitigation and request for credits from the Wetland Restoration Fund are not important.

What is important is the engineering firm that BHFW had hired to create their Wetland Mitigation Plan was Gewalt Hamilton.  And not just Gewalt Hamilton, but Dan Strahan himself , who was Barrington Hills’ Village Engineer at the time, was personally involved in the project.

Strahan is cc’ed on the Gewalt Hamilton letter to McHenry County on behalf of BHFW and Strahan’s signature even appears with Davis’ signature on the Wetland Restoration Fund application as the Design Engineer.

Davis_Strahan_1

Davis_Strahan_2

To be clear, this was a project undertaken by a private property owner in unincorporated McHenry County immediately adjacent to the Village, and Strahan and Gewalt Hamilton were hired by that individual.  All at the same time when Strahan and Gewalt Hamilton were also employed by the Village of Barrington Hills.

We find it shocking that Gewalt Hamilton and Dan Strahan did not decline employment by BHFW & Mr. Davis in 2015, seeing as the firm had been serving Barrington Hills for decades.  Gewalt Hamilton & Strahan were well aware of the history of the Davis property, and in all likelihood would be called up by the Village to consult on the property in the future. It would be bad enough for any engineer employed by Gewalt Hamilton to have taken this job, let alone Dan Strahan.

Not surprisingly, Strahan indeed did end up personally involved in discussions on behalf of the Village regarding new driveways and dedicated easements and right-of ways for the proposed HARPS facility on BHFW property in 2016 & 2017.  It certainly gives us pause to wonder about the quality of the service the village and taxpayers received on that assignment.

Did Strahan and Gewalt ever divulge to the Village of Barrington Hills that they had been previously employed by Davis?

How could Strahan and Gewalt maintain any impartiality when they had been paid by both the Village and Davis?

Are there other projects that Gewalt has worked on for Davis and BHFW?

Did Strahan and Gewalt ever divulge this conflict of interest while they were applying for retention as the Village’s engineering firm?

Right now, we have more questions than answers.  We’ll leave it to our readers to draw their own conclusions.  We think the documents speak for themselves.

Click on the following links to  view the complete PDFs of the documents BHFarm_Gewalt_Wetland_1 and BHFarm_Gewalt_Wetland_2.

Read Full Post »

Four seats on the Barrington Hills Board of Trustees are up for election in the April 4, 2017 Consolidated Elections, and the Riding Club of Barrington Hills seems to be aiming for all four now that candidates have filed with the Village Clerk on Monday.

Running for the office of President are:

  • Martin J. McLaughlin* (Independent)
  • Louis Iacovelli (Riding Club)

Those running for three Trustee positions are:

  • Colleen Konicek Hannigan* (Independent)
  • Paula Jacobsen (Riding Club)
  • Elaine M. Ramesh (Riding Club)
  • Matthew P. Vondra (Independent)
  • Robert M. Zubak (Riding Club)
  • Ralph Sesso (Independent)
  • Linda H. Cools (Independent)

Incumbent Trustees Fritz Gohl and Mike Harrington are not running for re-election in April, however Gohl will be running unopposed for trustee to the Barrington Township Board of Directors.

*Incumbent

Read Full Post »

Audio recordings from the November 17th meeting of the Board of Trustees are available on the Village website.  To access the menu of recordings, click here.

The meeting began with a public hearing regarding some minor adjustments to the 2016 Annual Appropriation Ordinance related to telephone equipment leases.  No one from the public spoke, and the board later approved the changes.

Three residents made remarks during public comment encouraging the board to continue their efforts in opposing the Longmeadow Parkway Project.

The preliminary budget for 2017 was discussed during the finance reports, and expenses are once again forecasted to be down for the third year in a row.  The recording of that discussion can be heard here.

The Building and Zoning report revealed that a run-down home on Steeplechase Road that has been the subject of board discussions dating back for many years has finally been demolished.

With regard to other ZBA matters, it was explained that the reason the board was not taking up the November 9th recommendation of the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding boarding codes was that the transcript and “finding of facts” report provided by counsel had not been prepared yet.  Since that time, a special meeting of the Village Board has been scheduled for December 7th for this purpose.

The discussion then turned to an agenda topic titled, “Unincorporated & Boundary Properties Discussion,” and the subject became clear once Trustee Konicek began to provide background on why it was included.

It seems “rumors and fear-mongering” are being spread through the community regarding a developer’s plans to build a facility for HARPS in unincorporated McHenry County adjacent to Barrington Hills.  Apparently, people are being told the Village Board had taken an opposing stance towards the facility being built or that permits have been denied.

None of this is true, of course, but apparently these rumors and more stemmed from, among other communications, a recent letter sent to the Village by the developer. Konicek asked Trustee Cecola, Dan Strahan and Bob Kosin, all of whom have met with the developer, to join in the discussion to set the record straight, as can be heard here.

We’ll see about obtaining a copy of the letter, but it’s senseless how this pettiness continues to obstruct the forward momentum for our community our Village officials have strived to generate.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for December 19th.

 

Read Full Post »

Friday FlashbackFollowing are some of the articles published by The Observer in November 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.

Despite changes, horse boarding controversy continues – 2011

Embattled horse farm owners say they have been complying with the Village of Barrington Hills zoning code and its president agreed, though neighbors still insist the farm is operating illegally and should be shut down.

Benjamin and Cathleen LeCompte, owners of Oakwood Farms in Barrington Hills, and Village President Robert Abboud said the farm has changed a few operation standards, and has been in compliance with the village’s Home Occupation Zoning Ordinance since February.

Read the TribLocal article published five years ago here.

An economic proposal to control horse boarding businesses – 2011

This Monday evening, November 14, 2011, the Zoning Board of Appeals will again take up the controversial subject of large-scale commercial horse boarding in our Village.  Numerous proposals have been floated, rejected, and then floated again in recent memory.  Who knows what will come out of Village Hall after Monday’s meeting.  Here is an idea: If large horse boarding businesses are going to be allowed in our Village, at the expense of our quiet residential character, they should pay fees and taxes as businesses.

Read the original Observer editorial here.

Barrington Hills 2012 Resident Survey Results – 2012

On October 22, 2012, The Observer published the Barrington Hills 2012 Resident Survey.  Readers and subscribers participated, as did many of the more than eight hundred residents who received an invitation to take the survey via email.  By the time the survey period closed on Sunday October 28, two hundred twenty-six residents had completed the survey, and eighty-four of them chose to provide their own personal comments and insightful observations based on their years living in the Village.

Revisit the Village survey results from four years ago here.

Better safe than sorry – 2014

Last month during a special Village Board meeting, the Board of Trustees had the opportunity to ask questions of three law firms who were invited to present their qualifications to serve Barrington Hills.  Board members asked representatives of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle their opinion on whether the Village should undertake legislation changing our Village Code related to horse boarding [Anderson II] when there is active litigation occurring between two private parties if such legislation might affect one party over the other.

David McArdle, a partner with the firm, responded, “We wouldn’t recommend that you pass a rule, pass a law, that favors one party over another.”  When asked again in a different way, he stated, “We wouldn’t recommend that.” (A link to the recording of that discussion can be accessed here).

Read more here.

Season’s first snow is Chicago’s largest November snowfall in 120 years – 2015

The season’s first snowfall dropped as much as 17 inches across Chicago’s northern suburbs, and the total of 11.2 inches at O’Hare International Airport made it the largest November snowfall in 120 years.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: