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Archive for the ‘Village Attorney’ Category

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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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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Flock

As Illinois police departments lobby city councils on the importance of cameras to combat crime, some are raising concerns about the right to privacy.

The American Civil Liberties Unions has released a report on Flock Safety, a company that sells license plate reading camera systems to taxing bodies. The ACLU report looks at how the technology is building a form of mass surveillance never seen before in American life.

Flock systems have been installed in 1,400 cities (including our Village) across the country and photograph more than a billion vehicles every month. Its ambition is to expand to “every single city in America.”

“We are concerned about all of this massive influx of technology over the last year or so and the question of what really happens to it and ultimately utilized,” said Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy with ACLU of Illinois.

Champaign and Peoria are using the technology.

In Springfield, taxpayers are paying $415,000 for 83 cameras to be installed in certain areas of the city.

Bloomington city leaders this month voted to install the license plate cameras despite opposition from the Central Illinois chapter of the ACLU.

Yohnka said company officials are using fear as a way to sell their products.

“The marketers of these systems are telling local leaders that they can adopt these systems in order to fight a recent spike in gun violence,” Yohnka said. “There’s actually no evidence that it works that way or that it will help in terms of that.”

Read more here.

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Cuba Road

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

Cuba BH

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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DD

32W939 Algonquin Road

The Zoning Board of Appeals meets this evening at 6:30 PM.  They will be holding a public hearing followed by a public meeting and possible vote regarding:

Text Amendment – Anja Foundation — Amending Section 5-6-4(C) of the Zoning Ordinance to add to the list of special uses allowed in B-3 Zoning District “Religious Institutions: Athletic fields and playgrounds on the grounds of religious institutions, Churches, Chapels and synagogues, Columbariums associated with religious institutions, Rectories, parsonages and parish houses.”

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

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OBH Capture

Our gratitude goes to those who’ve followed our four-part journey thus far. Hopefully, it may lead you to the same conclusions we now share.

Obvious to all, there is no way that the current Board of Trustees (BOT), especially President Cecola, would ever consider seating Robin VanCastle next to them in the MacArthur Room. She has shown the unwavering honesty that causes many to avert their eyes, for fear that eye contact would reveal truths some, such as President Cecola, cannot hide.

No one will ever know if Trustee Buettner contemplated this in her discussions with Pro-Tem Konicek. The question is, do we owe her a debt of gratitude for setting the bar so high as to cause the BOT themselves to raise theirs?  Only time will tell.

As we’ve stated, our Village President nominates appointees of his (or is it his household’s) choosing.  At the very least he should have reached out to Ms. VanCastle as he did to other prospective nominees to express Trustee Buettner’s desires.  That is just common courtesy, which apparently he and most trustees have forgotten. It’s that change which can lead to moral turpitude that prompted this series.

The Observer was founded over twelve years ago, since many residents at the time recognized the ethical erosion in our Village government, not only at the Board level, but Commission levels as well. We like to think our communications had some influence in correcting that situation beginning in 2013.

Unfortunately, last year we witnessed our Village government heading in a downward path, and the speed at which it is continuing has us concerned.

Last year we elected four people to our BOT, one being an incumbent Trustee escalated to Village President.  For six years, then Trustee Brian Cecola relied almost exclusively on the guidance provided by former Village President Marty McLaughlin and Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan. Their education, experience and long hours studying the many issues facing our Village proved immensely beneficial to Cecola and were arguably the reason for his election to President.

Sadly, President Cecola did not retain enough of what he should have learned from his previous mentors to be effective in his new responsibilities, which has become glaringly evident to residents. And it appears that the three newer Trustees are following Cecola’s lead, but the question is, who is setting his leadership path? From our observations, not him, and in fairness, we need to explain why.

President Cecola is a hard worker when it comes to performing tasks he derives income from.  However, in his volunteer roles he seems to prefer to relegate research and decision making to others in his duties at Village Hall.

He appears to lean heavily (some say exclusively) on the former Building Permit Coordinator and the current (inexperienced) Village Administrator for guidance (and decisions).  The has led to the three new Trustees relying on often biased counsel from non-elected sources.

Examples include the former Permit Coordinator’s well documented advocating for aboveground swimming pools for a neighbor, now permitted for the first time in our Village of estate properties’ history. This in Cecola’s first month in office, dutifully approved to his wife’s delight.

There are other examples of Cecola’s self-interest voting that have occurred, not the least of which is convincing the BOT to terminate a longstanding snow plowing and salting relationship with Cuba Township in favor of awarding business to a private landscaping company he socializes with. Without providing a reason when asked, Cecola conveniently abstained on voting on that one.

Before our newer Trustees continue in this trend, governed by two non-elected people planning Cecola’s course in our Village, we implore them to pause and take stock of where they’re at now and how they’re perceived in the community.

President Cecola is no longer credible and has lost the support of many former supporters, apparently including President McLaughlin, who now can be heard opining that Cecola is not the same today as the person he and others supported and voted for last April.

If Cecola continues to be disinterested, we sincerely ask Trustees Ekstrom, Riff, Strauss and now Hills, to pay much closer attention to what is happening in our community and to the management of our Village.

Related: “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 1),” “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 2),” “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 3),” and “Our predominantly pusillanimous Village Board (Part 4).”

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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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1.24.22 Agenda

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

  • [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 22 –
  • [Vote] A Resolution Adopting an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Cook County Assessor’s Office to Facilitate Access to GIS Data Resolution 22 –
  • [Vote] Plan Commission Appointment: Maggie Topping, term expires 2024

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

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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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