Friday, January 30, 2009

Big Welcome to Gov. Quinn

I am very excited to see Gov. Quinn take office after years of our environmental state infrastructure being dismantled by Blago.

Whether it is supporting our efforts for the Great Lakes, dealing with progressive solid waste and recycling issues, or the many other clean air and sustainability initiatives, Pat Quinn has shown great leadership.

All that being said we need a strong dialog with our new Governor to make it through these very difficult economic times. State government must deal with several issues that has and will effect our lives.

This is a man that cares deeply about open government, transparency, and our environment. Someone that has always been a political outsider and reformer now gets a chance to be the agenda setter for the State... I am hopeful that Governor Quinn will do a fine job and reach out to all of us to find good solutions to the many problems that face us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Stevemandel.Com designed for Re-Election

A new STEVEMANDEL.COM is online for my re-election. Election is April 7th, 2009. Early Voting starts March 16th and goes through April 2nd at the Health Center 1840 Green Bay Road.

I have raised a little over half the money needed to fund this campaign. I am asking my supporters to contribute what they can so I have included a paypal "DONATE BUTTON" for online contributions. If you would rather send donations directly to my home address at 2157 St. Johns, make checks out to the Steve Mandel Committee.

Also, available on are places to sign up for my newsletters, writing friend to friend cards, letters to the editor, getting bumper stickers and buttons, and/or doing anything else to promote my election.

Remember friends, I was the lowest vote survivor of the last election so do not take for granted that I am a sure thing to win the race...... I need your help to win this one!!!!

Please forward our newsletter and election website to your Highland Park friends and family.... Winning this election is all about networking and passing the word to get out the vote. If you would like me to send you a bumper sticker, a Re-Elect Steve Mandel button, or are willing to do Friend to Friend cards please call, email me, or go to Volunteer and Contribute at my website to sign up.

As always, I am available at home at 847-831-0373 and on my cell at 847-456-6933.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

HP agrees with Ravinia on new fee

The City Council has negotiated an agreement with Ravinia Festival that should provide over 600k of much needed revenue to our community. Some of the funding will replace Ravinia's past contribution to the YEA event but will still host the event where donors and patrons can celebrate that special day.

These efforts were originally initiated by the entire City Council when we proposed a fee for bus rides from our downtown to and from the festival events. Ravinia, concerned about ridership revolt asked us to sit down to negotiate another type of revenue source. We voted Monday on this agreement that has been discussed over the past year.

Bottom line here is that we will be importing tax dollars from mostly out of town patrons to again reduce our dependence on our property taxes. As a not for profit Ravinia Festival does not pay property taxes but produces additional revenue to the city through sales and the food and beverage tax.

We are real lucky to have great partners like Ravinia Festival who are helping our community provide services to our citizens, schools, and other not for profits through this additional revenue. Being one of finest arts organizations in our nation, I thank them for their true commitment to the citizens of Highland Park.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meeting with May and Garrett shows team work

Myself and members of the City Council met with Senator Susan Garrett and Representative Karen May to discuss ways of dealing with the huge increasing costs of pension plans. Projections have shown that mandated benefits and contributions to pensions from governments could skyrocket taxes up 10% for residents of our community in 2010. Local governments have absolutely NO CONTROL of these costs paid for our employees.

Staff will be working with our municipal associations to promote legislation downstate that would extend the date to be fully funded on these pensions. This extension would at least smooth the large increase currently needed in contributions and spread it over a longer period. Also, we need to review the benefit packages and start to become REAL.... Government employees must live within realistic budgets during these rough economic times just like the rest of private business. Governments can't ignore the economic situation of our times without crushing our residents.

Our legislators are committed to work with us on reducing these liabilities to our community and residents. As they are aware, it is up to the State lawmakers to change the laws concerning these pension mandates so we are able to manage the costs passed onto residents. We have promised to work out and present legislation to them to get the job done. Stay Tuned!!!!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grange Ave Development Proposal now has less homes

The "Green Springs" development on Grange and Park has lost 2 units of the 8 homes it had proposed. This brings the density of housing down to a reasonable level that can meld into the existing neighborhood. The City Council was asked to expedite the process and not send it back to the Plan commission. The Council voted 5-2 to have a public hearing in front of the Council. Myself and Councilwoman Olian were in the minority stating the petition should return to the Plan Commission.

I have no problem with the 6 unit density which includes a historic incentive. I had asked that the past proposal of 8 units be shrunken down to 6 units and that was done.

The concern I have is what happened to the "GREEN" in "Green Springs" The open space has shrunk from 58% to 21% and pad sizes have grown from 4000 Sq.Ft. to 8162 Sq. Ft. I had also asked where all the pervious pavers and other green elements went? Gone?

The sixth (historic) unit is a bonus unit and by discretion of the City Council. Our PUD development ordinance also give us the right to ask for a more community friendly elements within the development. This property boarders the Hybernia Preserve and it was represented that stormwater could travel that way without harm. I suggested that these properties should unify in the spirit of the environmental approach used at Hybernia and add to the green buffer instead of justifying over building because of the adjacent proximity of Hybernia.

I am hopeful that the developer got the word and will bring us back a great plan with a green design and elements.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Karger Center to be used to help our children and residents

We will be leasing the THE KARGER RECREATIONAL CENTER at 1850 Green Bay Road to the Community Family Center Folks. Partners of the CFC are the Family Network, Family Service, HP Community Nursery School & Day Care, HP/HWD Home Child Care, and Tri Con Child Care.

They will be kicking off their fundraising efforts soon. Early Childhood support is essential in promoting a productive future for our children. Also, with the stress of today's social and work environment many families can use support. This facility and partnership can provide a real foundation to allow these organizations to help our citizens for foreseeable future.

With our support we can make this dream a reality.... Check out their website at . Keep watch for new information on the Karger project.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Stop Blocking Sunlight to our homes

We need to start changing our laws to allow sustainable solutions to work. One idea that we had enacted many years ago was the daylight plane ordinance. This ordinance which was first enacted by Glencoe, prevented home builders from blocking the sunlight to adjacent homes. I believe all citizens that currently have direct sunlight shedding on their properties have the right to maintain this natural benefit. We can currently design homes that only use sunlight to provide all energy needs as they have done in Europe. By using the sun for direct heat and for producing electricity we can achieve sustainability and cut off our dependence on foreign oil and much pollution in our environment.

This law was taken out of our ordinance because some members on our City Council and Plan Commission several years ago thought it restricted homeowners rights to build out their property. Many thought since we had tweaked our ordinances to reduce bulk, daylight plane was not needed. Might this law promote smaller homes that might not dominate the environment and rise 30 some feet up from the property line? YES......What is wrong with that? If we continue to allow one property owner to stop the sunlight to another, we rob the citizens of really being able to live in Highland Park with a sustainable home.

I will be asking the Council to look into putting the Daylight Plane Ordinance back into our zoning laws ASAP. We need to tailor our laws so they support a sustainable program for our community. I we want our children to survive in this world we need to think GREEN.