Saturday, March 19, 2011

Create Change-- VOTE ! !

As your Highland Park Councilman for about 18 years I believe the City Council has done a great job providing all of us a vibrant community that is a great place to live, work, raise a family, and retire. The economic reality of the past several years has put stress on our community. That being said, we do have the resources and heart to keep Highland Park moving forward to provide services and the excellence we all expect.

I am supporting candidates that have strong positions in looking at every possible way to consolidate governments, create efficiencies, and reducing property taxes and fee's. Candidates and positions that propose that the same old governance practices are good enough and the big bucks will be rolling our way soon, should not be supported. Along with providing consolidations and efficiencies, we should re-examine old ways of capital improvements and develop a more sustainable practice.

In this election, I have noticed a wide bandwidth of candidates that provide us with both the "business as usual" approach and others like myself that want to reduce the size and costs of government. Please read about the candidates for the Park District and School Districts and only support those candidates that are willing to make the hard choices to help our residents afford to live in our community. Candidates that don't have a problem raising our taxes and increasing fees should be retired and not hired.

Early Voting
March 14 through March 31

Remember to bring a government-issued photo ID such as a passport, driver’s license, or military ID.

Early voting location:

Lake County North Shore Health Center
1840 Green Bay Rd., Highland Park
Election Day is Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

Councilman Mandel's "On The Table" Blog: Steve Mandel's Political Endorsements: "Steve Mandel's Political Endorsements"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Economic Development . . Economic Development . . Economic Development

Candidates promise Economic Development as a super pill for all our worries.... Get Real. Over the past four decades our city government has taken advantage of economic booms that have nourished a wonderful and successful economic culture in Highland Park. We have imported tax dollars from pockets "out of town" by attracting regional market needs to Highland Park. We have grown our sales taxes significantly over property taxes over the last 20 years.

Concerning the status of our downtown and other business areas, all of us on the City Council have encouraged and grown our resources with the Chamber, the new downtown Alliance, and groups like the Ravinia Neighbors Association. Through our Business and Economic Development Commission, we have reached out to property owners and business owners to find ways to partner and help them succeed.

What is troubling to me is to hear those say we need to physically grow Highland Park to feed the government beast. We need to reduce the size of government to live within our means. We are almost a fully developed community that is land locked by the lake and what growth we should desire is mostly infill development, not an Evanston plan.

Be careful what you embrace as you cheer for your candidate screaming "Economic Development...Economic Development.... Development...Development" What do they mean?? I have heard this before. What they mean is 7 story hotels, 50+ foot buildings, and traffic tied streets. Ask them what specific new reality they will create? What will it look like? How will it affect us in our daily lives? We had this debate 10 years ago and went all over this community and got a consensus of supporting a less dense more cozy community.

Looking throughout our bustling downtown last night our entertainment and dining district has started its spring and summer boom. There is no need to cry wolf since Highland Park is a great thriving community and will continue to be so with a little nourishing... NO Reason to use Steroids!!!

Now, we do need and are currently working with property owners to help fill vacant business spaces in many ways. We are fully engaged in helping business market themselves and our community. Also, what is also important is that property owners help merchants that are leasing their shops be successful. This means flexibility in rents, partnerships with marketing, and an overall sharing in the pain. Good news is things have been getting better and look forward to some upside to revenues over the coming years with our existing business framework.
Keep Cool.... Stay Tuned!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

We should speak out against intimidation

Good people sometimes "Lose it" because they are frustrated, not feeling good, or simply just having a bad day. It has happened to me and almost everyone I know . . . and when it does, most of us immediately regain control, apologize, and move on in our lives doing the best job we can being respectful and kind. Stuff Happens!

Some people, when they don't get what they want feel they can intimidate and threaten harm to individuals to get their perceived obstruction to disengage. When a group of individuals that are party to these kind of behaviors do not intercede and demand an end to this behavior, the aggressive intimidating individual feels a license to continue a bad disruptive approach to achieve their way.

It is not an acceptable approach to sit back and watch someone bully or intimidate individuals at anytime. We must always stand up and reject this behavior in a loud and clear manner. If an individual can't help themselves, refuses to get help from at a professional level, then we must separate ourselves from this assault. If the group in which bullying occurs demonstrate strongly that this behavior will only produce negative response from the group, then the bully will most likely withdraw.

There are times to sit back and wait things out to not cause a scene. It is my opinion that we should stand up to aggressive intimidation immediately and never allow these events to occur in any group where we are participants.

Friday, March 04, 2011

March Roundup

Designated a home at 1923 Lake Ave. as a Highland Park Local Landmark. Home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905 and is known as the Mary Adams House. Cool!

Complete Streets Plan will be overseen by our newly named Transportation Commission. They will look at merging bike lanes, off road paths and trails (Greenways), better use of public transportation, etc. The commission will be creating a subcommittee to include our commissions and citizens to get a broad perspective on this issue. Great Project!

I asked staff to schedule a discussion concerning replacing the pedestrian overpass fencing that was taken down during a rehab project. We will discuss the cost and timing of installation

We were asked to deal with signs on fences and will discuss that matter after this current election. Our ordinance might need some tweaking on this issue. NO Biggie...

I also asked that on the next agenda we have a presentation about the water bills and the fees that have been charged for Storm water and our Sanitary sewers. I was opposed to these charges since I suggested it come out of our property tax money..... Watch for the upcoming presentation.

Steve Mandel's Political Endorsements

I publish who I support for Mayor and Councilmen because the composition of the City Council determines how I (We) can promote the best representation for the citizens of Highland Park. For the citizens of Highland Park to be served best there should be seven strong independent folks working collaboratively to discuss vision for our community as well as how the performance of those goals are achieved. After listening and understanding the values of each of the 7 candidates I have endorsed the following.............. Please join me.

City Council of Highland Park
Nancy Rodkin Rotering is an outstanding choice for Mayor. Smart, independent, and will move things along for us to achieve many creative and positive outcomes.
Councilman- vote for three...
Tony Blumberg- I served with Tony on the Plan Commission for several years and he is a superb and thoughtful individual that is passionate and independent.
David Naftzger- Is the Vice Chairman of the Natural Resource Commission. He works with the Governors of the seven Great Lake States promoting economic growth and constructive environmental policy.
Paul Frank- I have had a sit down with Paul, listen to him and was very impressed. His is a very mild mannered intelligent person that has experience and an education in this public stuff!

I strongly recommend these four individuals to help the entire City Council of Highland Park move our community forward during the next four years. Please join me in voting for these candidates on April 5th or at early voting starting on March 14th.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Here We Go... Talkin bout raising taxes again!

Amaudit presented findings to the City Council on March 28th showing us ways to raise revenues by adjusting our utility taxes. The first suggestion they made was to change the rate tier structure to increase the electric utility tax on most of our residents and business in our community. I spoke out in opposition to raising these taxes on our residents and was joined on Voting "NO" by Nancy Rotering and Scott Levenfeld. Those that wanted to get more information and would possible support this tax increase were Terri Olian, Larry Silberman, Jim Kirsch, and Mike Belsky.
The other Utility discussion centered around residents and commercial establishments that have not paid any Gas Utility Taxes since deregulation and ability to sign on with out-of-state providers. We all agreed that this loophole should be fixed and all Highland Park natural gas users should pay the tax. Our ordinance concerning this loophole will be adjusted and brought back to the City Council.