Sunday, October 30, 2011

Steve Mandel for Lake County Board

UPDATE..I filed on the 28th of November and learned yesterday that no others filed at the closing of yesterday. What this means is that I am unopposed in the March 20th, 2012 Primary election and we move onto the November election. Yippeee!
Since this is a partisan election there can be someone slated to run against me in November but as yet all is clear. Lake County Board District 11 contains almost all of Highland Park, all of Highwood, and a tiny piece of Deerfield. The New Lake County Board will be seated on the 1st meeting in December of 2012.

Recently the Lake County Board has created a new district that includes most of Highland Park, all of Highwood, and a small part of Deerfield. I am currently passing petitions to run for this newly formed district and am excited about extending my political career at the County.

As many of you might know, I originally started my public service working on County issues and have continued that work through today serving as an Executive Board Member, Chair of the Finance Committee, and Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County. SWALCO is an agency that represents about 41 communities in Lake County. Outside of SWALCO, I have been involved in County open space preservation, discussions on health services, housing, watershed conservation, and land use.

Michelle Feldman and Anne Bassi currently represent areas covered by the newly drawn district. I would be proud to continue the good efforts of both these fine ladies while bringing a renewed enthusiasm in representation of this new district and all of Lake County.

Please give me feedback on this new opportunity as I collect my petitions and prepare to file within this next month.  Thank you for all your support..... past and present!

Library Infrastructure Impovements first use of reserves

While I stand by my position that I would not use reserves for normal yearly funding of operations and scheduled yearly allocations of capital improvements, we should use the reserves for a one time capital improvement. Infrastructure, streets, and facilities could be improved with reserves as allowed within our financial policy.

As our reserves have approached the 50% mark and our financial policy only suggests a 25-33% reserve, consensus of the City Council has determined a spend down of reserves on one time capital expenditures.

Over the past several years the Library board has asked for improvements and additions that have topped the 10 million dollar mark. Under direction of the past City Council the library board was directed to target infrastructure improvements and limited updating instead of a large addition project.

The City Council has agreed on about .8mil of improvements in 2012 that would start repairing basic facility repairs and update the Library to more fit the needs of data and computer driven services. We have also received assurance from board members to work with us on our government sustainability project to create efficiencies and eliminate redundancies. Stay Tuned!!!

Councilman Frank pushes Stimulus for HP Business

How do we get business to invest in Highland Park to generate additional sales and property taxes....?

Well, Councilman Frank has worked with our staff and the Business and Economic Development Commission to create a new Sales Tax Rebate program that could allow rebates for as little as a 75,000 dollar improvement by business owners. Since the economic down turn we have had a moratorium on tax rebates, but with the new norm of slow growth this moratorium will be ending and a more aggressive stimulus will be forthcoming.

This item should be coming up soon for continued public discussion, is very wide reaching, and could also attract new business to join us in Highland Park.

Park and 41 development

A proposed Park Ave. development has received a preliminary thumbs up from the City Council. The only real concern shared by the Council and myself was the vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow around the site. With Dunkin Doughnuts across the street, the intersection of 41 and Park is very challenging at times and can be dangerous. Staff will be looking at ways to promote the best safety methodology. We also need to get IDOT to give us more time in crossing and turning onto 41 from Park.

I am excited to know with passage of the development the old ugly cement mixing remnants will be gone.....The new development will be anchored by a CVS, Starbucks, and a Bank. These additions to the NW neighborhood should create a more accessible spot for essentials and create another sales tax generator along our Skokie Corridor.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Budget Reality is based on outdated government structure

It is just not good enough to just keep cutting within our current government structure. If we do not change the structure of government we will fail in providing services our citizens need.  We must start combining departments, functions, governments, and even multi-community services to get to where we must go. This is not a black and white issue, but rather should be a thoughtful deliberative process that looks at all the possibilities to provide services to citizens in our region.

I kind of look at our current government as an old 1950's auto that gets 10 miles to the gallon, weighs a few tons or more, and is almost as wide as it is long. Now this vehicle has the ability of taking six folks across the country and floats down the road nice and smooth but the problem is that gasoline costs a bundle, were running out of fossil fuels, it is unsafe to drive, and we have no space to park it.

Economics will drive us to the real reality in government. Those that say we can't cut anymore are correct within the four walls that we currently operate. Now is the time to bust down those walls and look at our region, government, and community to eliminate redundancy and promote shared services, shared employees, and shared governance. Roll in the blackboard and invite all governments to start a dialog for successful and sustainable delivery of services to our citizens.......NOW!