Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Tree Ordinance and Ban on Phosphorus

Great Progress from our Environmental Commission with the leadership of Bert Frey, past chair and just announced Environmental KING of the year, on providing more protection to our community forest. This ordinance further protects trees larger than 20 inches, better construction planning on effects of trees on and off construction property, and larger fines for non-compliance.

Also, after I sent the issue of a Phosphorus ban to the Environmental Commission, they held a public hearing, did the research, and brought us a great ordinance that further protects our waterways and environment from this harmful soil additive. Since there is naturally so much phosphorus in our soils this ban was a no brainer and had no opposition.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Get up and Stand up For Open Space and our Environment

Reflecting on the past several votes of the City Council where I was voted down by a very large majority concerning moving forward the Open Space District and a Lot Coverage Ordinance, we must now organize and activate the majority of citizens that want Highland Park to become a more sustainable community.

If this City Council was around in the 90's we would have not bought the Highland Park Country Club, saved the 38 acre wetland preserve, created Founders Park, or reduced the density on several zoning districts cutting future development in half.

While I have been trying to work with this City Council and the Mayor on continuing the quest towards a sustainable city, we continue to revert back to old slogans and practices that will continue to raise our carbon footprint, increase runoff and pollution, and occupy more of our natural environment with structures and cement.

It is time for all of us tree huggers to unite and say we are not going to take it anymore and want to see this government start sustainable planning and practices for the future. We need to organize a group and start a political action committee to promote the environment and sustainability in Highland Park so we can get some movement on these issues. WHO'S IN?

I will continue to push for an open space district along the Skokie river basin and work with our Mayor to re-focus the Council to achieve some positive results.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yes, to a Great Holiday!

While we are struggling to realign government and still provide services needed for the community, I give thanks for the great town we live in and all the people that are willing to help others.

It is nice to step back from the grind of business and just enjoy this time of peace. Please enjoy yourselves and remember to shop and dine in Highland Park to help our local economy. See you in 2010......Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!!!

No to Proposed 2010 Budget !

UPDATE - Budget passed 5-2 12-14-09. Even though staff has cut the budget in a very significant manner, there is still much more to do. I will not support the proposed budget for 2010 because I still do not see a near term commitment from staff or the majority of the City Council to balance revenues and expenditures. I will also not support a tax levy that exceeds the property tax cap of .1% and increases the sewer fees attached to our water bill. I am not supporting any further burdens on our citizens that are struggling in this economy. Bottom Line----Less government, more money in citizens pockets.....

In 2010 staff is proposing that about 3/4 of a million be taken out of reserves to balance the budget. . This deficit spending must stop. Along with this budget gap we will be reducing infrastructure work 700k. We have to convince staff and the City Council that a smaller government can survive the current economic environment and will still serve our citizens just fine.

Last night at the 11th hour our City Manager came forward with approximately 800 k of additional proposed cuts in our expenditures. I felt it was along time coming but an extremely welcome surprise. Still, we could not get a majority of the Council to pursue even a portion of the cuts at this time. The good news however is that most of the Council was willing to look at these cuts during the 2010 fiscal year.

While we hope for the best in the coming months, we must plan for flat revenues and reconstruct our government services accordingly. This will take hard decision making and a real commitment from the City Council to keep our City Manager on this task. Since this is a very complex set of decisions it will be easy to cloud the issues at hand. We must stand strong and do what is right for our citizens that are struggling to make ends meet.