Thursday, December 18, 2008

Legislative Committee should pick our Senator

Update2... Congratulations Senator Burris!!!! May he serve us well.
Update... Can you believe Burris said " I DO"??. No more suggestions from me. I am just dismayed at the actions of our Governor and Roland Burris.
Just a suggestion...... I think we should have a legislative committee interview and pick our replacement for Obama as our Senator. We desperately need 2 Senators in Washington DC ASAP. Our current beleaguered Governor should sign off on a plan that allows this legislative committee to make a recommendation to him for appointment. Rod B. should be concerned about the fate of Illinois in the coming months without one Senator and should play ball. This would remove the appearance of hanky panky and provide an open and transparent process for selection. All the Governor(recently affirmed by the Supreme Court of Illinois) needs to do is Sign the Line.
The appointment process should not be side stepped and can give the residents of Illinois plenty of assurance that the best choice will be put forward through a transparent and open process.

Citizens should choose E- Newsletters

Many citizens have joined the electronic age and governments should offer a choice to residents of getting newsletters in the electronic form instead of being mailed. Many other businesses and organizations offer E-Newsletters instead of mailers. The City currently has its newsletters online in an electronic format.

Residents should be able to go online and put in their email address, receive the email electronic newsletter, and select an option to STOP the mailer. We currently have the Highlander and the Shorelines online and costs from printing and mailing could be reduced and eventually eliminated. We could help our city budget and save money to be used on more important things like our streets and sewers. The environmental impact from the reduction of paper would also serve our sustainable goals......... This option provides a transition to the citizens where they have a choice of delivery.

We should do this immediately ..............

Ravinia Sewer Program Goes Down The Drain

The City Council has worked tirelessly in trying to deal with flooding in basements from the public sanitary sewers lines. I believe we had successfully worked in a partnership with the residents in the Highlands in alleviating most of the problem areas. We continue to work on a regional basis with the County, State, and Federal officials in trying to place a storage facility to slow the flood waters down before they reach Highland Park.

Trying to work the Sewer Program in the Ravinia neighborhoods has not worked. Prices have skyrocketed(doubled) while our pocket books have been mugged by this crippling economy. We will not proceed at this time on this Sewer lining Program because the costs to residents is way too high and great questions by residents need to be answered before we proceed on anymore private funding on this project.

The idea behind this program was for the city to rebuild or line our public sewer systems in the right of way and seal the system from infiltration of water. This infiltration has caused capacity problems and back up of sewage in peoples homes. Along with the millions the City is spending on our infrastructure in the streets, we had asked residents to line their privately owned lateral sewer lines that connect their homes to the public sewer lines. The City also offered a 20% cost share, a low interest loan, and an option not to pay anything until the home was sold.

While this program was well intentioned and I believed did work in the highlands, times have changed and we need to rebuild this program to where the burden of this project does not cripple our residents......... To be continued..

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mayor Belsky's Endorsement Letter

Dear Fellow Highland Parker,

I have served with Steve Mandel as a Councilmember and as Mayor for many years. From this perspective I can tell you that Steve is an effective and passionate advocate for important issues including: fiscal responsibility; the preservation of open space; controlled and managed growth; historic preservation; and open and transparent government, to name a few. Along these lines Steve was instrumental in the city’s joint effort with the State and Lake County to preserve 38 acres of new open space. Steve also led the charge on making Council meetings available live on the web. Now residents can view both "live" meetings, as well as previous ones, no matter where they live.

Steve’s years of experience in government, along with his hard work and creative thinking makes these excellent programs happen for our residents. Having said all this, my biggest reason for supporting Steve in his re election to the City Council is his commitment to the environment and local sustainability efforts. Steve has been instrumental in sustainability efforts such as our residential volume based garbage collection with free recycling and the leasing of the city’s Prius hybrid vehicle fleet. Most recently, in his capacity as the City’s representative to the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, Steve has brought single hauler commercial refuse collection to Highland Park, which will result in less pollution and allow for businesses to recycle for free. Demonstrating sustainable storm water practices Steve also played the lead role in the new demonstration rain garden at City Hall. All of this reduces cost for the community

As a fiscal conservative, Steve is the first one to speak up on reducing government costs. He always reminds us of many citizens that are struggling to make ends meet in our community.

Councilman Steve Mandel’s re election to the City Council is a must. I hope you will join me through a contribution and your time so we can assure a successful campaign.

Purchase of Highland Park Theater

We voted to purchase the Highland Park Theater because it provides our downtown and community with a great opportunity for economic, cultural, and historical enhancement.

Economically, we bought this theater at a good price. It is a valuable asset that will hold its value to our community on several levels. First, as part of our plan, we have done the professional studies that shows it is structurally viable and can be marketed as a performance art facility and produce a profit for a theater company. Likewise it will also become a stronger economic engine for our downtown, producing additional sales tax, food and beverage tax, and causing less reliance on our property taxes which are mostly supported by our residents. This theater will import these tax revenues as a majority of patrons will come from outside Highland Park. Our studies have shown us that our downtown can be most successful if we focus on entertainment and restaurants. The Country Kitchen might have to open for dinner!

Culturally, we know this project makes our community a better place to live and raise our children. The Arts are core ingredient to our success. The Arts are important to us as we teach our children what is important to the growth of our lives. The quality of life in Highland Park only improves with the success of productions at the Highland Park Theater. Writers Theater, a successful theater company and first choice for negotiating a partnership with the city, provides us with a great possibility of success in our mission.

Historically, the Highland Park Theater is an anchor at the East end of town and should be retained for future generations. If this community did not step forward in this preservation it would certainly be lost.

Again, this is not an asset that will devalue and is worth most to our community not only as a theater but also because it is contiguous to current city owned lands.

The dollars for this purchase will be paid back from new imported tax dollars and an existing balance in our downtown development funds(specifics to be released soon). I had represented from the start of this project that we needed to find a new imported revenue source for this purchase and that will be the case.

During these economic times we should not retreat, but rather invest in success and future growth that will return imported tax revenues to help support services to our citizens.

No new taxes until cutbacks are fully examined

At the December 8th meeting I voted against a gas tax and sewer fee increase because it has not been demonstrated to me that we could not obtain the desired budget by reducing government first. Gas tax was increased to 2 cents a gallon and the sewer rate has been raised to 40 cents. The sewer rate is on your water bill and the cost is associated to water use.

In these times where residents are losing their jobs, a high percentage of their equity in funds and real estate, I do not think it is proper to put governments shortfalls on the backs of working Americans. We must explore all other solutions in dealing with falling municipal revenues that must focus around decreasing expenditures first.

Should municipal government cut costs even if we reduce services? I think so! My problem is that we have not yet been presented a service reduction solution by staff to evaluate instead of raising taxes. I had asked for this demonstration over 12 months ago and am hopeful the city council will drill into this matter in the first and second quarter of 2009.

While this economic crisis is still unfolding and future adjustments most certainly will be needed, we need to aggressively find innovative solutions to manage our governments. Cost reductions, adjoining government cooperation on services, and a basic reinvention of government should be fully explored.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Election Results...and Promise ahead

I am very excited about the upside of our new President-elect Obama and the hope he brings this nation in these uncertain economic times. Working with both parties and promoting a policy that represents the majority central political view on issues will carry the day and promote good will. My expectations are great but the hurdles and needs are also large, so things will take time to change. What is important is that we will be going down a new path that can provide positive results for our nation.

Representative Karen May and Senator Susan Garrett can meet the huge challenges that face our State. They also must work with our municipalities to solve the state pension mandates that could increase our local taxes dramatically and steal money from funds that provide basic services and infrastructure repairs. The problems that face our state elected officials demand motivated and competent officials like Karen and Susan and I am comforted by their representation.

Mark Kirk has effectively worked with both sides of the isle in providing results for our citizens. His values and effectiveness have been demonstrated during his past service. Along with an Illinoisan in the White House we should see more federal support for Highland Park.

I have great hope for our future because of these highly motivated and competent officials providing leadership in government.

Please provide feedback on my Blog!!

I am hoping that more of you comment on the positions I express in my blog so I can use your opinions to govern better when I represent you in the debate of how we proceed as your city government within this community.

While I always take praise a little better than disagreement, both are needed for me to have a representation of the public point of view.

Along with your vote, interaction and networking within our community is a healthy and constructive methodology of consensus building and best practice decision making.

Please email me at or call me at home at 847.831.0373 or on my cell at 847.456.6933. Thank you for reading my "On The Table" Blog.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Large home looms over Valley Road and splashes neighbors

Many of our established neighborhoods demonstrate the unique character of our town. As redevelopment occurs and homes are torn down our natural environment is diminished. Some new owners and their architect do a good job in integrating into the existing character of our neighborhoods. Sometimes new owners look at their property with total disregard for their neighbors and push to the absolute limits of the property rights doing great harm to the properties on the block. These out of place new homes can create visual domination over the natural environment, shed off tons of storm water, and remove natural buffers and virtual neutral zones between structures. Large and tall structures can also cut off needed sunlight in the winter time and cool breezes in the summer months to adjoining properties. The adjoining property owners property rights in these situations are compromised. The City should re-examine our laws to protect existing residents from this intrusion and destruction of our neighborhoods.

On Valley Road a new very large home was built in a very wet part of the street. This new construction demands to be drained so water won't flood the home and push waters onto adjoining properties. The cost of this new storm that runs from the far end of Valley out to County Line Road is expensive. There is currently an 50+ year old storm sewer that serves the street but is insufficient as per what is currently required by City code. While this new resident is required to drain his property to build his new home, he has the option of asking the rest of the residents to pay him back in the future. This recapture agreement is presented to the City Council and can be accepted as presented, accepted and changed, or simply rejected.

How much burden should be placed on existing residents for new development infrastructure on their block. I say that no costs should be applied to any adjoining residents because of the building of a new home. If someone wants to squeeze a large home in, let them squeeze the money out of their pocket and not reach into ours.

The other question we have to address as we look into new sustainable storm water practices is at what thresholds we should require properties to hook up into public storm water systems. The current law says building an additional 250 sq. ft. requires hookup to public storm water system. I am suggesting we increase this threshold substantially and look for ways to deal with storm water on site instead of channelizing it down our sewers and into flood ways.

We also immediately need to create legal channels for installation of rain barrels and rain gardens to protect our properties. We should also not make folks hook up to storm sewers if it is not needed. French drains, storage containers like rain barrels, and rain gardens need to be incorporated into our ordinances immediately.

The City has promoted and demonstrated new storm water approaches and now needs to make it work for homeowners. Nature always has better answers than engineers and bankers. We should listen to reason and always look for ways to reduce the pressure on our environment and costs to our existing residents.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tough choices during budget talks

The Mayor and City Council have had several special meetings to talk about the 2009 budget. Because of the crisis in the economy we have experienced reductions in revenues from building permits, the real estate transfer tax, and a smaller reduction in our sales tax. These budget shortfalls have resulted in lower fund balances. To deal with a portion of these shortfalls in 2008 our city manager has cut some expenditures but has not reduced any service levels. Because of a large planned reserve in our fund balance, we will not be making any drastic changes to begin this next fiscal year. We must change however from our "business as usual" government practice if things do not get back to the good old days of growth in 2009. While I have been promoting change this past year, the Council consensus has been to wait and see how deep this down turn will be before making any changes in our current practice.

I have been pretty aggressive asking for a plan on cost cutting during 2009. Staff has cut costs up to this point that don't include personnel. I and a few other Council members have agreed not to go back to all our homeowners and increase their fees or taxes anymore over the next 6 months while we see which direction the economy is heading. Staff however has suggested we immediately increase fees and taxes so we don't have to cut personnel and services to our citizens. We need to take a good look at all of our alternatives to deal with this situation. I am a believer that a smaller local government is a must in this economic climate because of all the pressures that have been put on our citizens with skyrocketing costs and losses in savings. We are benefited by great past fiscal planning that affords us this time to evaluate how we respond to this new economic environment. But we must act soon to be a constructive force in the big picture.

The other cost issue that is haunting us is state mandated pensions that will rise substantially over the next year if equities continue to sustain large losses. While we are mandated by the state government to live by standards that the legislature have set for our pension funds, we have no control on the costs that we must levy our citizens through property taxes. I have called Representative Karen May and Senator Susan Garrett to asked them to work with us on discussing alternatives that would reduce the burden on our property owners. Senator Garrett reminded me that a pension reform package was just signed into law that deals with some pension issues state wide. I do commend her on this oversight legislation and applaud this first step, but much more needs to be done. I welcome a dialog and partnership with our State Legislators to prevent a double digit increase in our city government (pension) levy in 2010.

If you look on your real estate tax bills you will see the pensions as a separate item. The 2008 pension levy will be $2,284,446.00 and it is proposed to be $2,416,644.00 in 2009 (5.8 % or a 132,178.00 increase). This pension cost is about 20% of the entire city portion of your property tax bill. Projections for 2010 will have an additional $630,000 increase (based on a 10% reduction in investment return) and I believe will have a huge impact on our ability to properly fund our core city missions unless we substantial increase in property taxes. Folks, this will be beyond our ability to control because of present state legislation.

This is important! We need to ask Representative Karen May and Senator Garrett for assistance and to work with our municipalities to reduce these mandated pension fund requirements. Especially in these economic times, it is just not fair for our citizens to take this huge increase on their property tax bills. We all must share in the pain of our tightening economic situation which includes all municipal employees.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

City Hall Rain Garden Installed

At my urging, the City Council had staff install a demonstration Rain Garden on the Northwest corner of City Hall to show the benefits and beauty of sustainable storm water management. I know the City Council would like to see this practice institutionalized within our community.

During heavy rains when water can cause erosion and ponding, rain gardens provide natural water storage that reduce negative effects from a down pour or long periods of rain fall.

Another Rain Garden will be installed at the Northeast corner of City Hall to take storm water off the rear parking lot. Not only does this store water within the rain garden system but also provides filtering of these waters before they flow down our ravines and finally into Lake Michigan.

Funding for these projects are from state grants and our increasing funding from our sustainable initiatives fund. These fund revenues will be coming from our increased payments from recyclables and our new single hauler commercial waste contract. I have been following the direction of our City Manager that says we need to identify funding resources first, then spend the money second..... I AGREE...Done


Commercial Waste and Multi-Family Refuse and Recycling Franchise Agreement

Here is a link to our City Highlander Oct 15, 2008 Newsletter and the lead article on our New Commercial Waste Contract. Read it please.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Overdevelopment knocks on the door at Grange

The City Council was presented with an eight unit development on Park Ave. and Grange which at one time was the old Sparking Spring property. The underlining zoning on this property allows 5 single family housing units. This area is zoned R-3, one home per acre and borders the Southeast corner of Hybernia. The developer Brad Zenner had originally proposed a change of zoning for a 14 unit development last year that was rebuffed by the Plan Commission. This 8 unit plan passed the commission with a split 4-3 vote and did not have the support of the Grange neighborhood who said they would support an additional one unit for a total of a 6 unit development. I strongly agreed with the neighborhood because of several objectives that we recently reaffirmed in our master plan.

Under our ordinances we ask for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) when parcels are over 3 acres. The response to this law varies depending on whether the property is in a high density area or on a relatively large and/or isolated parcel in a residential lower density neighborhood. When these proposals are within an existing neighborhood and don't have the parcel size to create a buffer or proper transition from the neighborhood, they don't work. In this case on Grange any PUD development should resemble the character of the street while still incorporating the controls on bulk, environmental preservation, and best management practices of sustainable planning.

What also made this development interesting was the provisions for bonuses of affordable housing and historic preservation. While these are both priorities for our community, and all of us have agreed on a 6 unit (of which one is affordable) development, further bonuses should never negatively encroach on the overall character of our existing neighborhoods.

This proposal was tabled at the City Council meeting to allow Brad Zenner to think of less dense alternatives to his current proposal that might be acceptable to the Council and community.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Park District Withdraws Support for Lakefront Referendum

I am 100% behind our Park District Commissioners for expressing that now is not the time to increase the Park District levy about $67 per $100,000 market value. They have decided not to proceed with support of the Nov. 4th referendum. All of us in government, this community, and nation need to focus on retaining the economic viability we all have been comforted with over the last decade. To put anymore economic stress on our citizens or our economy would be wrong at this time.

The Park District of Highland Park sent out a press release last week. They are not supporting moving forward with the Lakefront Plan at this time. The commissioners said they would have preferred to remove the referendum question from the November general election ballot altogether, but since ballots have already been printed, that was not possible.

I had participated in the Lakefront Plan process with the public over the past several years. The JJR January 2007 plan was a much better representation of the consensus of the community meetings than finally became the Districts action plan that unfolded this last year. Many of us were surprised at the big push for a 124 slip marina at central avenue. Wow, as our community is working to become more sustainable and provide an example of renewable energy use, enhancement of our natural assets, and promote a lifestyle of reduction of our carbon footprint, is a power boat marina fit in? I don't think so...... We want people to enjoy the recreational use of Lake Michigan and should pursue teaching sustainable uses like sailing, swimming, and use of paddle crafts. These uses are quiet and add to the big picture strategy that our Mayor and community have pursued.

That being said, this lakefront planning process has come a long way and I applaud our Park District Commissioners for the great work that they have done in trying to provide resources and awareness on our lakefront. We need to continue this discussion over the next several months and rebuild our priorities on protecting our lakefront and creating opportunities for environmental enhancement and recreation.

Future plans should provide a longer timeline of implementation so we do not get a large increase in property taxes. Our first priority should be clean beaches, new restroom facilities, and enhanced opportunities for our citizens to enjoy a quality experience on the lakefront. MORE TO COME!!!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Fort Sheridan "Deal" included a Golf Course

When the City of Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, the Lake County Forest Preserve, and the Army signed onto the plan for the redevelopment of Fort Sheridan one of the principle objectives was the continuation and maintenance of the 18 hole golf course. When residents bought their properties they were told that not only it would be a golf course community, but that the LCFPD would be upgrading the course in the near future. Residents were promised this improvement again during several development referendums where Fort Sheridan and nearby residents voted overwhelmingly in support of the LCFPD.

Over the past several years the LCFPD property has been torn up, in litigation over a huge dirt pile, and a subject of controversy among forest preserve commissioners about the disposition of the property..... Now the litigation is settled and the dirt pile is currently being remediated. It would be nice if the LCFPD would give a signal that they are willing to carry out their past promises and obligation to the Fort Sheridan residents and all the partners that signed onto the agreement including the Army that deeded this huge lakefront property at NO COST.

The Forest Preserve has done a great job in ravine remediation and beach access for the residents. Now is the time to get moving on the golf course reconstruction as promised. While some commissioners are concerned with the economics of the golf course and a possible loss of revenue, they need to understand that the consideration for the land is still due the Army and partners that made the deal at Fort Sheridan. That consideration is the continuation and maintenance of the golf course. Also, additional promises were made during the past referendums that development money would be used for improvements and upgrading of the old golf course.

A DEAL IS A DEAL and the LCFPD should initiate a process with the residents to rebuild the golf course that it promised to maintain and improve. It is simple and clear that the LCFPD has this obligation and should support us by providing this improvement as residents have supported the district over many years without a lot to show for it.

Retaining our Open Landscape is Sustainable

We must work with private and government interests to retain the undeveloped areas of our community. To further encumber our environment and natural ecosystems with additional sprawl development will further condemn us and our children's future. We must plan for our future and carry out sustainable discussions we had portrayed in the Master Plan of the late 1990's.

Recently, we heard the uprising of our citizens in the western neighborhoods complain about over development, traffic congestion, flooding issues, and overall concern of further deterioration of our environment. I fully agree that we need to move on this issue.

Preservation of our open spaces depend on legislation action by our City Council to enact what we have already articulated in our City Master Plan. A collaboration with the school districts, park district, and our private country clubs will move forward zoning changes that will give us more certainty of retaining a great majority of these open spaces.

It is also incumbent of our citizenry to fully participate in these hearings and discussion to cause the implementation of these zoning changes. We can't be satisfied with just complaining about new development proposals as they are put forward under existing laws using a NIMBY approach. We must have a holistic approach that is community wide and fair to all parties. We must also allow the time for all interests involved to testify on this matter so we can determine the best zoning amendments to facilitate open space retention. The public needs to get involved in this matter to communicate with the City Council how important these sustainable issue are to the future of this community.

Clean water, clean air, survival of native species, flooding issues, public safety, sustainable economics of our government operations are all tied into our future development planning of our community. These issues are important and deserve your voice. Please comment......

Friday, September 26, 2008

Web Access at City Hall

We have new technologies available to citizens on the web that I want to share with everyone.

First of all I am most excited of or Web Streaming of City Council and Plan Commission meetings. Not only can you see them live but you can also go back and check out past meetings that have been archived. You will also be able to jump to an agenda item rather than listening to the whole meeting if you click on that highlighted part of the agenda.

You can also use the online option on the Vehicle City Sticker page where you can order your sticker online using a credit card. You can also update and renew information.

We also have Online utility payment services where you can pay water bills.

If your interested in GIS look at our mapping services.

These are just a few of the technical innovations that we have accomplished over the past several years to make access to our government more available. Please browse through our city web site at to understand all the initiatives that have come online. Also, there is information that you might be interested in pertaining to community matters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mayor Who??

Nothing was wrong with your television or computer screens on Monday..... I had the honor and privilege of sitting in for our Mayor Michael Belsky (who is also the Steve Mandel Committee Campaign Chairman) on September 22nd.

WOW! it was really neat and a great opportunity given to me by our Mayor Mike. If you want to see the once in 16 year event go to our City Web site at or specifically to and click on the video for the Sept. 22 council meeting.

It was great to be able to sit in the big seat and work with the fine Council folks to my left and right. Sure is a different prospective from the center isle. Proclamations, green initiative stuff, and those bill and payrolls were all taken care of with the support of my council colleagues and staff.

Mayor Belsky was attending the InternationalCityManagerAssoc. conference in Richmond Va. where our own City Manager David Limardi was being honored by accepting the position of president of that 9000 member international organization. A great honor for City Manager Limardi and our community.

Anyway..........I really enjoyed it Mayor.... Thank you.

Surviving Our Governments

While the City of Highland Park is fiscally sound and has a AAA bond rating we need to make some big decisions as to how we spend and gather money over the next several years. Since being elected in 1993 I have always taken a strong conservative position on government spending and taxation. While I have not prevailed over the past several years on particular points of our fiscal policy, this entire city council has not raised our property taxes over the CPI index for over 15 years. .

Currently we have seen a big reduction in revenues such as building permits, the real estate transfer tax, and sales tax. Unfortunately these revenue sources help support our operating costs like personnel and other basic functions. Fortunately, we do have significant reserves that should allow us to absorb a few economic bumps in our revenue assumptions. That supportive cushion however does not alleviate our responsibility to come up with a long term solution if things in fact do not turn around in the short term.

Our staff has told us that we have cut most of the cuttable spending on our core missions. Staff is pushing to increase revenues through additional taxes if we want to keep current service levels. We need to work harder on reducing costs through consolidation and efficiencies. We might also have to reduce services that don't jeopardise safety and basic services to our citizens until the economy heals.

I am not going to vote to increase property taxes or additional fees while our citizens are under the economic stress we are currently enduring. We need to support our citizens, especially the fixed income folks, that are struggling to live in our community. These are scary times and our city government might have to tighten up far past a point we are comfortable with doing.

Specifically, we need to develop several 3 year scenarios where revenue projections are better, flat, and worse than current conditions. While the "better" revenue projection would be a comparative walk in the park, the most likely and probable flat or worse projection will need creative solutions that we have not seen in our life time of public service.

We need to get moving on these plans and come up with solutions. We must continue to provide our citizens with the essential services while not increasing their costs of living in our community. Other pressures from increased food and fuel costs will continue to shrink our discretionary spending. At our local government level we must understand that we have to focus on essential services and reduce costs rather than raise taxes and fees until times get better.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

YEA! for YEA...

For those of you that joined us at the YEA benefit concert at Ravinia Festival know what a great time all of us had enjoying American English transform into the Beatles. When I closed my eyes there was no doubt the real Beatles were again on stage. Not only did the benefit dinner and entertainment provide a wonderful evening to all that attended but seems to have been a great economic success for our not-for-profits and school programs that YEA sponsors.

Hats off to Mayor Ray Geraci, Dr. Mark Hill, Ravinia, and the YEA Board for providing such a successful event for our community. I look forward to more community celebrations in the future that provide entertainment and economic support to our citizens and children.

In these tight economic times it is even more important for those who have wealth to give to programs that provide basic support to those that can't provide for themselves.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A "GREEN" Commercial Waste Hauler Contract

UPDATE!!! Last night (9/22) the City Council okayed a contract with Waste Management for the single commercial and multifamily hauler. Free recycling, natural gas trucks, and lower rates across the board... Not bad huh!

As a Director of The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, I have been working with our Exec. Director Walter Willis to promote a better way to deal with our commercial waste and recyclables. Our sister organization in cook county (SWANCC) has negotiated several commercial franchise agreements that have provided FREE recycling and reduced costs for their commercial customers. Other benefits have included greener trucks with less of them pounding the streets and rambling through our towns. This is a new era as "business as usual" must be contained in a sustainable format.

To this end the City of Highland Park put out a single hauler franchise request for proposal this summer and we are reviewing the responses. We hope to finalize negotiations and sign a contract with a single hauler by October 1st. We should be able to reduce costs for our businesses in Highland Park while providing an entire green approach for our community. This means free recycling along with a program that greatly increases our recyclable output.

I again take my hat off to our staff and city council for the great support and enthusiasm for this initiative. Stay tuned and I will give an update on the results of this effort. We have a City
Council vote coming up September 8th to negotiate with a single hauler and then a final contract vote on the 22nd of September.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Newsletter/Blog will be emailed monthly

I am re-committing myself to send out my newsletter once a month as I had done for many years prior. Please respond back to me if you do not wish me to email you the newsletter / blog. I will be making entries on the blog from time to time so you can also just go to either my web page at or directly to the blog at for up to date entries. I have not been getting anywhere near the amount of feedback from you since I stopped emailing the newsletter so.... here we go again. I know this has ruffled a few feathers in the past but it is something of value to me as your Councilman to get feedback on my thoughts and actions that are currently "On The Table".

Monday, August 25, 2008

08 Election Choices

Please vote.....I am voting for Obama for President because we need a big change in the way this country does business. We cannot continue to unilaterally make decisions that effect the entire globe without reaching out to other nations to form a true consensus on international policy and action. Gun boat diplomacy will not work in this century and we are paying the price on many levels for the failed policies over the past eight years. A vote for Barack Obama is a slam dunk for me. This man will bring ourselves and our children's future hope. He has the vision, intelligence, temperament, and leadership abilities to provide the greatest opportunities for our nation. In my opinion this could be the most important vote of our lives.

Karen May for State Representative and Susan Garrett for Senator because they work hard for all of us, are accessible to the citizens, and vote with the citizens best interests in mind.

Lake County Forest Preserve District Referendum should be approved in my opinion because we need to stop over development in the county and save as much open space as we can afford. This vote does not increase taxes!!!!! It keeps the rate where it is and continues to use monies for purchasing lands and creating trails. The LCFPD has done a great job over the past several decades providing a great green corridor and the work is not done..... This will not cost any additional tax money and is well spent.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Press Release- - YES Trees... NO Signs

I am very proud of my fellow Councilmembers whom have worked with me on this effort. With the leadership of Mayor Belsky You will see great strides on our sustainability programs ..... Stay Tuned!!!! We do not have a choice in protecting our environment if we want our children to have a bright future.

Steve Mandel 847-456-6933

Highland Park Has Been Named Tree City USA

Councilman Mandel, Brenner, and Kirsch Say Yes to the Environment by planting Trees Instead of Putting up Yard Signs.

Candidates to Eliminate Yard Signs and Plant Trees Instead

The Green Revolution has taken root in America and in no place more than our home town of Highland Park. The City Council has enacted model legislation to help preserve our environment. Ground breaking initiatives such as tree preservation and residential volume based waste hauling with free recycling have provided model legislation for municipalities across the nation.
It is with the spirit of positive leadership infused with the Green Revolution that the three declared candidates for Highland Park City Council are announcing today a voluntary ban on the use of lawn signs in elections. Furthermore, the three candidates, Steve Mandel, Mike Brenner and Jim Kirsch have pledged to use the funds, normally spent on yard signs in their campaigns, to funding the deployment of new trees throughout the City of Highland Park.

Yard signs require natural raw materials like petroleum, wood and steel and by eliminating their use we are conserving energy and preventing trees from being destroyed and turned into signs. Furthermore, the city will be beautified by eliminating yard signs from our campaign which create visual pollution.

It is our intent to lead by example and challenge others running for office to take this environmental step. We encourage all declared candidates in Highland Park to join us in this waste-not pro-environmental initiative. Our goal is to join forces with others who seek elected offices and achieve replacement of ugly political yard signs with a goal of planting as many new trees as possible, thus reducing waste and our carbon footprint within our community. The true success of this initiative is dependent on all candidates putting our local environment first and political interests second. Let’s set an example for our nation and again provide leading edge environmental leadership through our governmental process.

Yes.... I am running for Re-election as your Councilman

I am running for re-election as your Councilman. As in the past, my heart and spirit are strong. I would like to continue working for you to promote our community values and to personally be there for assistance whenever you call me to help solve a problem. Together, we can continue to produce good results.

I continue to promote policy on improving our environment and open space preservation, cultivating a healthy business climate, and maintaining open communications between our city and the community. In these tough economic times it is essential to reduce costs and partner with all local governments to consolidate and reduce the burden of our real estate property taxes. I know we can meet this challenge.

Our community is admired and serves as a model across the nation because of our environmental, housing, and law enforcement initiatives. As always, I am committed to work with Mayor Belsky and my fellow Councilman to produce cutting edge results.

Please call me if you have time. As always, I can be reached at home (847)831-0373 or by cell phone (847)456-6933.

Thank you for all your support.

Steve Mandel