Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays and New Year

Just wanted to pass a message of thanks for the support this year concerning my public service and wish everyone a great holiday.

Especially during these times when we are reminded about violence, poverty, and the overall struggles of mankind, reflection and action of how we can help each other is not a bad thing.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.


December 20th Round Up

Food Composting will go Citywide on January 1st with a winter seasonal biweekly pickup through March. First 250 signors will receive a free kitchen compost pail, compostable bags, a 33 gal rolling cart, and a 50/50 cost split of normal $30/3mo. cost reduced to $15/3mo. In April this program will be merged into landscape pickup and be pay-as-you-throw by sticker. Sign up NOW by calling 847-272-4145.  City HP press release...

Holiday Recycling Extravaganza Event will take place again on January 5th from 8am - 12noon at our Public Services Campus 1180 Half Day Road. Recycle Electronics, Styrofoam, Fluorescent, and Household Batteries. Learn more on Extravaganza Flier Link!!

Lake County passed a balanced budget with a Zero % levy increase. YEA! The Burden on our taxpayers is great and while still in the shadow of the recession we need to pull back spending and reduce the costs to our residents... NOT raise them! Governance should begin with that thought!

County Elects New Chairman Aaron Lawlor and Five new Board Members take the Oath of Office.

Want to know what is going on with Lake County Traffic?? Check out PASSAGE and be Traffic Intelligent! Along with the online link there are Apps for phones and IPads.

Wow! Lake County is a Whole New World!

On December 3rd I took off my City Council hat and put on one hat as your Lake County Board Member and another hat as a Commissioner of the Lake County Forest Preserve District. While I could never be finished with the workings and policy of the City of Highland Park, I am very excited to embark on my new positions up in Waukegan and Libertyville.

Up in Waukegan I have been given my new locker, mail cubby shelf, and badges to show I am official. I have been assigned to the Rules, Financial and Administrative, and Health and Community Services Committees for Lake County. For the Forest Preserve I am the Vice Chair of Legislation and a member of the Land Acquisition and Preservation Committee.

The Boards are made up of 21 individual member districts (reduced from 23 prior to Dec 3rd) and I represent (District 11) a great majority of Highland Park, all of Highwood, and a slice of Deerfield. I am excited about working with this new bunch of elected officials I am serving along side. Us 5 new Elected have been received very warmly and my expectations to promote a progressive governance agenda seems to be well received by many.

LCTV is a great communication center for you to learn about Lake County.  County Board meetings are Online as well as the LCFPD meetings. In the future not only will I bring up current issues we are discussing on the boards but would like to attempt to educate you on the services, assets, and functions of Lake County and the LCFPD.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Last City Council Meeting

Last night was my last City Council meeting sitting as Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman for the City of Highland Park. I want to thank Mayor Nancy Rotering and my fellow Council members for all their kind words that they expressed and the friendship they have shared with me.

Sitting on the Council for my 20th year has been a great experience with many rewards. Having the support of the community and the citizens over the past 20 years and as recently expressed in my Lake County Board victory election, has been one of the finest gifts I have ever received.

I have always been impressed by the dedication and heart felt allegiance to our citizens by the four mayors and many Councilman I have served along side over the past two decades. I have learned and grown as a public servant understanding the methods that have achieved good outcomes for our community within our City Council Partnership.

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank my family, the citizens, and my fellow City Council members over my 5 terms for their support and contribution to making Highland Park a great community and putting a big smile on my face!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

As I think of all the help and support we receive from fellow citizens, we must never forget the sacrifice and commitment of our Veterans that have put it all on the line for our freedom. Paying tribute to these soldiers is something I am grateful we do as well as consider their welfare off the battlefields when they come home.

The ability to go where we wish, say what we feel, and believe what we know should never be taken for granted. Our soldiers play a prominent role in preserving our life in this great country, I wish them all well, and thank them for their service.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Vote for Steve Mandel for County Board

If you haven't early voted, I am asking you to Vote for Steve Mandel for Lake County Board  Tuesday Nov. 6th. Most of you know who I am and the many things I have done during my years of public service on the City Council of Highland Park. If you need a refresher please go to my website at and read through my blog entries dating back to 2006.

The main reasons I am asking you to vote for me is I wish to provide leadership countywide on:

   -Working for new models of collaborative governments to
     reduce the cost of government.
   -Getting a fair share of the county services in proportion to the
     tax dollars we pay.

   -Building environmental sustainability networked between
     our communities.

   -Enhancing government transparency and communications
     to our residents.

My years of experience with government finance, land use, communications, environmental initiatives, county government, human services, and direct connection to the residents have given me the tools to be successful as your Lake County Board Member. I will also continue to be the most accessible elected official by email or by phone (847.456.6933 cell / 847.831.0373hm).

Please Vote Tuesday November 6th and urge all your family and friends to do the same. Call them, Email them, and remind them that if we want to make a difference we need to elect leaders that care about us and will be responsive to our wishes, needs, and welfare. Please vote!
Thank you for your consideration,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A few days until ELECTION DAY

Early Vote Now! through November 3rd at the North Shore Health Center (behind Sunset Foods) 1840 Green Bay Road. Please pass the word about Steve Mandel for Lake County Board. Polls are open Monday-Friday 9:00 to 4:30 and Saturday 9:00 to 2:00. YOUR vote is very important and the turnout is going to be very HIGH!

Visit to learn more and forward my website to all your friends.  Learn more about my public record and achievements. I am also a 100% Pro-Choice candidate. Along with many links and information about me, listen to my Debate (fast forward to time 2:14:15 for County Board) and link to my blog where I have published since 2006.

Please Forward to your friends and email to your newsletter lists to promote our campaign and insure a victory on November 6th. Our opponent is working very hard and it is up to you to continue to network so I am elected to the Lake County Board on NOV 6th. Please call with any suggestions, questions, or requests. Only a few days left and time is short. Please Help!


847.831.0373 home
847.456.6933 cell

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29th Roundup

City budget discussions are being discussed at neighborhood meetings with the Mayor and will be held throughout the month of October. Information is also available on our "know your city budget" city website and our budget page.
Greentown Highland Park is coming October 17-19 and hope you will take part in this great three day event. Greentown Kicks off on October 17th at 7pm at Ren. Place with the movie Waste Land. Learn about the conference from HP Greentown press release and learn about the schedule of events and register at the Highland Park Greentown Website.
Recycling containers are on the way to our Central Business District and Train Stations soon. They are the same design as trash containers but will be a dark green color with different lids...long time coming!!
Bike Walk Plan (draft form) was passed unanimously creating benchmarks to get folks out of their cars and in non-motorized modes of moving. The Greenways Plan and Greenways Brochure does barely survive this new policy document but needs revision to update connections and importance of the Lakefront and other natural destinations.
PTAD Parents the Anti-drug work with our High School parents to help educate on best practices of informing our children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. In response to recent events and tragedy within our communities the following letter was released. As parents, we can't make choices for our children but can continue to push good information and demonstrate good choices.

One month until Election Day

Along with a presidential race, congressional race, state senator and representative race, there are a few Lake County races including mine for Lake County Board. I am running in the new Lake County Board District 11 which is about 85% of Highland Park, Highwood, and one Moraine precinct in Deerfield. The district area is currently represented by Anne F. Bassi and Michelle Feldman which have both decided not to run for re-election. The responses I have received has been all good and am very excited to move my public service to the County level.

The three main bullet points of my campaign are as follows: First, I want to continue my quest on creating a new government model that shares services, creates efficiencies, and reduces the overall tax and fee burden on our public. Second, work on a more regional methodology to promote our sustainability and environmental work creating partnerships and stakeholders. Third, push for transparency, open government, and more integration of citizen involvement.

If you want a sign for your lawn or want to send friend to friend cards to voters please contact me at or call me on my cell at 847.456.6933.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Historic Preservation Demo Delay imposed

In 1998 we passed a law that gave authority to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to put a  hold on a tear down of a historically significant home when the demolition permit is requested.  If the residential structure is shown to be significant, the petition is reviewed by the HPC for determination of a demolition delay. To put a demo delay on a residence is serious business and rarely used. The HPC can impose a six month or one year delay on a demolition to give more time for a buyer to emerge to live in the significant residence.

This past week a resident and his buyer appealed a decision of the HPC to put a one year demolition delay on a residence described as a poster child for preservation by the Chairman of the HPC. The City Council upheld the HPC decision by a 4-2 vote under the eyes of a full Council chamber.

As property values have dropped significantly it becomes much harder enforce these delays. I do however believe we should still attempt to get folks to buy and maintain these historic significant structures and not let them simply be torn down without a second chance.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Recycle First. Trash Last....

SWALCO has launched a brand-new recycling campaign, “Recycle First. Trash Last.” The campaign encourages all Lake County residents to place a priority on recycling first, and trashing what’s left. Instead of immediately thinking about throwing away that empty shampoo bottle, for example, ask yourself “is that recyclable?” (The answer, by the way, is yes!) For a full list of what is accepted in Lake County, click here.Through this campaign, we hope to redefine the way you view trash and recycling. Recyclable materials are valuable resources and should not be buried in a landfill. Our hope is that Lake County residents will start recycling far more, and throwing away far less. After all, according to the U.S. EPA, more than 75% of most of what you are trashing COULD be recycled.
We challenge you to transition from a mindset of pulling recyclables out of the trash to, ideally, pulling trash out of the recycling. And we ask that you to make recycling a regular part of your daily routine.
While many residents in Lake County already do a good job at recycling, we can always do better. Check out the campaign at and learn more about curbside recycling in Lake County, the campaign and what you can and cannot recycle.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Theater Memo of Understanding

It seems like a century ago we bought the Highland Park Theater after 100's of  hours of meetings with business leaders, citizens, theater and marketing professionals, and in depth talks with Writers Theater moving into the space. Then the recession hit .  .  .  .  . Now several years later the theater is now closed, dark, unused, and a current blister on the greatest Central Business District on the North Shore. 

About a year ago Our NEW City Council put out an Request for Proposal to redevelop this property so that it again could be a contributing part of our great downtown. The market is showing signs of improvement and there is interest from a company called Alcyon, LLC to revitalize the theater property into a 500-600 seat mixed-media theater and mixed use development. The development includes a 45 unit leed gold residential and 10k commercial use component along with the NEW Alcyon Theater. Funding would include folding back some of the tax money from the proposed development back into the project costs.

The City Council will be voting on a MOU to give this developer an exclusive right for six months to propose a development on this property. The property is the HP theater and the lot to the East. The plan is to build a multi deck parking structure on the North side of Central. Along with parking within the new structure, the entire project will not only replace the parking where the development would go, but proposes adding 90 spaces.

Now understand this is just a proposal and not a done deal. The City Council will be vetting this proposal through our commission process which will include many public meetings prior to any final action from the City Council. We also have engaged Gruen Gruen & Assoc. to analyze the economics of the proposal before we get started in earnest.

I am very excited about this project and to work with these folks to bring the Highland Park Theater back to life, providing more living alternatives in our CBD, and adding to the economic engine that imports tax dollars from outside our city to REDUCE our property tax burden.

Remember, over the past 20 years we have grown our sales tax revenues (many $$$'s from outside HP) almost two fold while lowering our City Tax rate by about 50%.  We have done that by investing in our business community and cultivating the entertainment/restaurant culture we now see thriving in our downtown and I am excited to add to that mix. I am sure there will be many different opinions as we move forward and get the facts.
HOPEFULLY all good stuff from this new proposal for our community

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Update

I just attended the 2012 Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative annual conference where I represented our Honorable Mayor Nancy Rotering as I had represented our two previous Mayors since 2003.

The United States and Canadian representatives have joined on a mission to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence waterways. Some of the big issues discussed were invasive species, Asian Carp barriers, shale gas, runoff, and water diversion.

Asian Carp is considered a major threat to the Great Lakes and movement has grown from temporary electric barriers to permanent land barriers of the water ways. Several options have been floated and discussions are occurring.

Water diversion was discussed as a request of the City of Waukesha of Wisconsin is ripening and the GLSLCI will have to weigh in on the facts of the case producing more concrete standards for this and future judgements. The Compact, passed by the US Congress and signed on by all Great Lake States prohibits New water diversions outside of the watershed. There are exceptions like the US Supreme Court ruling that allows 2.1 Billion gallons per day for Illinois. Recently allotted Lake County water diversions, I assume, fall within this Supreme Court Case allocation.  Questions arose like do we allow diversions to increase sprawl or just in the case of health concerns of existing inland water supplies? Much more to come.......

Many people look out over Lake Michigan and just don't understand the need for a comprehensive and restrictive plan for the future. With Billions of folks on our planet and over 40 million currently depending on this water supply (Great Lakes= 21% of fresh water), we better look hard at the water quality and existence. Bottom line is that preserving our waters, restoring our waters, and ensuring those efforts in a sustainable fashion forever is the mission here and we need to keep our eyes wide open to continue to develop an action plan to fit the mission and support human life.



Sunday, July 01, 2012

July 2nd Roundup

Highland Park Historical Society will host the Auto Historica XII on July 21st... Cool Cars!

Electric Aggregation in Highland Park offers a Green Power choice for residents.

July 4th festivities start at 9:30 with Children's Bike and Pet parade followed with the Independence Day Parade at 10am. Sunset Park will host Fourth Fest from 11am-2pm. Battle of the Bands concert will start at 6pm at Wolters Field to be followed by fire works at dusk.

2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is available for inspection and talks about all the finances of the City of Highland Park.

Council approved an ordinance to make it illegal to drop off people on Lambert Tree, St. Johns and adjoining neighborhood streets adjacent to Ravinia Festival during concert hours. Cars will be ticketed.

Battle of the Bands Rockin.....Port Clinton

Had a great time with Bitter Jester's Nicolas D. at Port Clinton this past Friday being one of the judges for Battle of the Bands. We had a incredible turnout with the entire square packed to the edges. Mayor Rotering and Terri Olian were in attendance along with my fellow judges Lori Flores Weisskopf and Steve Ragsdale. We had a great time and the musicians were really kicking out those notes.. . Nicolas hosts a great event and hats off to you buddy!!!

On a side note. . . . . . we need to move on the reconstruction of the fountain area. I liked the idea that we replace the fountain with an open 360 stage. We were presented a wonderful concept last year by the Port Clinton bunch I thought refurbished Port Clinton nicely. These enhancements would provide excellent marketing value to our core business district. 

Update on Park District / City of HP Meeting

Just wanted to report in. . . . . that the Mayor, Scott Meyer, Cal Bernstein, myself, and staff had a great joint City / Park meeting. We talked about the Highland Park Country Club ownership getting resolved by end of summer and a host of issues that deal with acquisition, stairway at Park Ave. beach rebuild, and ordinance conflicts with maintenance of trails. One of the main issues was working together on sustainable approaches to government and how we could reduce costs by merging some facilities and operations. Big plus if we can get this stuff done!!

Next step was for staff to work together and come up with ideas from our visioning session and share it with our respective boards.... Very pleased at the attitude and vision of all my fellow elected's on this front.

Is the Library under the authority of the City Council?

For many years on the City Council our relationship with the library was smooth and predictable. When the library had a need they would approach the City Council and we would direct staff to work out solutions that fit within the City Council's budget guidelines for the City of Highland Park. Several years ago when we were falling into a recession the City Council was approached by the library board with a 10+ million dollar addition. The City Council did not approve of the plan asking that the library board look at phasing or to simply focus on rehabilitation of existing structure.

In a total surprise to me the library staff and board took offense to our directive reaching out to a attorney to discuss autonomy and legal recourse against the City Council because they thought we were interfering with their mission and authority. After some heated back door discussions they took our direction and have put forward a plan that is phased and focuses on rehabilitation, core infrastructure, and realignment of services aligned with the new electronic media. Bravo!

While City Council refused to levy more taxes on our citizens as the library board requested, we moved to spend down our 50% cash reserves instead. They were again offended that we would not drastically increase the library levy. They did not seemingly understand the economic burden our citizens and business were under and why should they? They are not elected or in any way accountable for their actions to the citizens of this community since they are appointed by the Mayor and ratified by the City Council. Yes, they are accountable just to the City Council and that is why we need to clarify their roles in respect to the City Council.

While I was Quebec City representing the Mayor at the Great Lakes conference I had heard this issue was discussed. Our library needs to work with our staff as does our other departments to flush out every and any efficiency within our municipal government. When the City Council approved spending of the rehabilitation and renovation funding I recall a condition being moved by the entire City Council to stipulate that our City Manager would flush out all efficiencies.

This idea and drum beating of independence and autonomy by the library is ludicrous and needs to come to an end. The Library Board does work under the City Council at our pleasure and authority. If the City Council can't put an end to this controversy it should be presented to the citizenry for a vote on determination as it should not be fuzzy or ambiguous anymore about roles, responsibility, and authority. We need to define our relationship in specific terms so future discussions have a reliable framework.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sign up for Composting Pickup!

Sign up for the Highland Park Composting Pilot Program if you have a Thursday garbage pick up day! Remember, only the Thursday Pickup Day can participate in this Composting Pilot Program. First 125 folks that sign up will get 50% off the ...$40 total price for four months, a free kitchen composting pail, free compostable bags, and a 35 gallon curbside roll out container.

Water Plant Upgrade Concerns

When we first approached the discussion of upgrading our water plant in 2002 a few issues were brought up. The first issue was that with new technologies emerging we could remove some micro organisms from the water to make the water safer (the reality is statistically a very very small degree of safer water). Lets be perfectly clear on this issue- our water standards meets and exceeds our federal and state standards and is very safe and healthy to drink. Secondly, we could increase capacity so we would not have problems supplying water during high demand dry times like we are currently experiencing.

Since 2002 the project's cost has over doubled while the size of the project has decreased by double digit percentages. We are currently looking at total costs a little short of 40 million. Our past city manager, in his wisdom, started purchasing items prior to the project bidding against my vote and advice. This was done to be sure all items were fabricated and ready to go prior to the start of construction and assure us a timely construction process. But, as history now tells us the bids came in well over the projected costs yet we are saddled with the past commitments and payments of millions.

One item that comes to mind is the several million dollar electric upgrade that we were told was needed for the increased electrical current use that could reach 150% of current needs. In a recent  presentation the reality of those needs were presented as only 120%. Other discrepancies from past to present was past representations that with our current sand system the plant upgrades would only cost in the range of 10 million, but in recent presentations that number has ballooned to a few million shy of 30.

With all this going on I am having trouble understanding reality and trusting the information we are currently receiving and would suggest an audit of these ridiculous swings in assumptions and prices. I have also suggested we look at bidding out the operations of the plant with upgrades since the process could be effected with different styles of management and efficiencies could save us $$$'s.

Anyway, myself, Councilman Naftzger and Frank seem most reluctant to move forward with this project  but a majority of the City Council seemingly wants to proceed. Councilman Kirsch has always promoted this project on the grounds of health safety which I have strongly disagreed. We have very safe water and this change to micro filtration will only increase water quality in the smallest of percentages. The facts are that our water currently exceeds all federal and state standards and mostly all adjoining communities' use our current technology and have chose not to convert to micro filtration.

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18th Roundup

Greentown Highland Park is moving along with dates set for October 18th and 19th at the Art Center of Highland Park as well as our Community House. We are looking at having movies, healthy and local grown foods, and many speakers to motivate us into action.....
Annual Festival of Fine Craft will be held on June 22 - 23, 2012. Great event I would suggest we all attend. The Art Center which shares our Cultural Arts Campus with the Community House is located between Park and Elm on Sheridan Road.
Our City Recycling Dropoff accepts Electronics, Fluorescent bulbs, Styrofoam, household batteries on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7am-1pm at our Public Service Campus at 1180 Half Day Road.
Ravinia Business District is the subject of a new street scape design, utility evaluation and planning to move forward to create vibrancy and provide a foundation for improvements. Ravinia Neighbors Association has taken a lead role in this endeavour.
Honored some great citizens, younger and older, for their great environmental work. Rebecca Grill (trout release), Howard Hill(Presidential Innovation Award), [Jonny Cohen, Tommy Mills, Griffin Rutstein(Greensheids project team)] Thank you for providing this leadership!!
The house on 1864 Green Bay (property between Sunset foods and Elm) was bought by the City for possible reconfiguration of roadway entrance into Renaissance Place Garage.


Over 200MPG in my Nissan Leaf

Getting over 200MPG with my real-time metering. My All Electric Leaf under the City's Aggregation rate of 4.836 cents/kw gets about 168MPG. Yes, here are the facts..... I have been paying 2 cents a KW for electricity after 1am using my Leaf's charger and my real time metering. For this Calculation I will use the HP aggregation cost of 4.836 cents / kw plus 4.9 cent equipment charge. My carwings says I am getting 4.1 miles per kw. If I drive 15000 miles per year the cost would be 356 dollars. YES>>> $356 dollars. Now if you drive a 30mpg gasoline auto and pay $4/gal for gas the same 15000 miles driven, it will cost you $2000... So lets see Gas Vs Elec. , 30MPG vs 168MPG and $2000 Vs $356. I made my choice, what is yours?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Rosewood Proposal Almost Perfect

The Park District of Highland Park is responsible to protect and provide our public decent beachfront for the residents. Growing up in HP, I remember the great summers down a Park Avenue swimming beach, having a great time with my family and friends.
The Rosewood proposal creates many great amenities for our community including a protected and an expanded shoreline, a recreational beach, a swimming beach, and naturalization of beachfront with native grasses. Structures include washrooms, guard station, and a refreshment stand.

The big rub to many neighbors and residents is the interpretive center being placed on the beach.To a few the interpretive center is a no go period because of the cost. My personal belief is Rosewood is not the best place for the interpretive center but am a strong supporter of one in Highland Park. My belief is that it could work better at several alternative sites like the Yacht club at Park Avenue, Ravine Drive, Open Lands at Lake Shore Preserve, or at some Park on top of the bluff.

We have been talking about a place to celebrate our Lake Michigan for many years and I am a strong supporter of such a facility. Lake Michigan is the greatest blessing we share next to our residents. 70 percent of us is Lake Michigan water and we should teach our children and ourselves to understand and celebrate its existence by means of the proposed Interpretive Center. We should be exploring for a place it can work instead of fighting over it where it is currently proposed.

Forest Preserve should not ignore Partnership

Just read the LCFPD press release on an open house for public input on Fort Sheridan. Only problem is that they are still ignoring the request of their grantor's (Highland Park, Highwood, and Fort Residents) to have a face to face discussion on this matter.

Again, the land was conveyed to Lake County with monetary consideration fully paid for by the residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan and the political advocacy of Highland Park and Highwood in exchange for a 18-26 million dollar golf course consideration and maintenance. Without those two components the land would have never been transferred.

It is time for the LCFPD to stop the disinformational spin and begin to negotiate with its community partners. A unilateral release of the covenant will never be accepted by the City of Highland Park, Highwood, or the residents of Fort Sheridan for no other offer of consideration has been made or accepted.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Recycling Task Force

The Natural Resource Commission Chairman Bill Bogot will lead the Recycling Task Force to work with property owners, condo owners, and property managers to fine tune our recycling production. We need to provide every condo and apartment resident, office employee, and retailer the ability to recycle. At this time several buildings and condominiums do not have recycling services for their residents and tenants.. Considering that recycling under our commercial franchise agreement is virtually free and will always will save you money. There is no reason not to trade in the big trash dumpster for  two smaller ones. One for recycling and one for trash.

Looking forward to finding residents that are willing to help advocate better recycling strategies. If you want to help us achieve more recycling opportunities in condos and offices please contact me. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!!!

Dave Knapp, City Manager of Highland Park

David Knapp has become our City Manager.  He has previously served as the City Manager for Cupertino, Los Gatos, California, and Boulder, Colorado. Mr. Knapp holds a Masters Degree in Systems Management and a second Masters Degree in Education, both from the University of Southern California.
His top priorities are providing high quality service, keeping costs low, and fostering constructive two-way communications with residents. His incredible wealth of knowledge and broad experience will serve Highland Park well.

Mr. Knapp’s experience in community building in Cupertino earned him the League of California Cities Award for the Advancement of Diverse Communities. In addition, Mr. Knapp has led efforts to improve service and lower costs by having interactive on-line services, webcasting of council and commission meetings and a questions/issues/concerns tracking system. During his tenure in Cupertino, the City received yearly budget and financial reporting awards, the annual Kosmont Cost of Doing Business ”Very Low-Cost City” rating and an International Personnel Management Association Outstanding Small Agency Organization of the Year award.

Bloom Street Rebuild is coming

Several years ago neighbors on Bloom approached the city to deal with a deteriorated street and flooding issues. At our April Council meeting we approved a contract to repave the street, install 12 and 24 inch storm water sewers, and increase the size of the water main for more pressure.

This follows last years alley improvement where new impervious concrete was installed along the alley that parallels Waukegan and travels North from Bloom.

Nice to be able to finally address the neighborhood concerns and improve this infrastructure.

Public Safety is our Primary mission

The City Council has a dynamic mission as your elected representatives creating policy and making decisions on your behalf. Public Safety is on the top of the list of what we consider our primary responsibility.

Last week we ordered an independent fire inspection of several public facilities to determine if they were safe to be occupied. This was prompted by questions raised and brought to the attention of the City Council. Our Fire Chief Pat Tanner has accompanied this inspection team and they had determined that the Highland Park Theater and the Port Clinton parking garage had failed those fire safety inspections. Fire Chief Pat Tanner recommended and the Highland Park City Council concurred that the facilities were not safe and should be temporarily closed.

Along with the help and leadership of our new City Manager Dave Knapp, we will get this stuff corrected and back on line in short time. Final reports are coming in, repairs will be ordered, and I am confident the safety will be restored and the garage and theater will again be open as soon as possible. More info from city press release....

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Lake County Forest Preserve District needs to PAY UP!

Over Ten Years After the promise was made, The LCFPD said they will not build the 18-26 million dollar Golf Course that was promised to Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, and the town of Fort Sheridan (now the residents). After the partnership put up about 400 million to redevelop Fort Sheridan in honor to our soldiers, the LCFPD has seemingly defaulted on their promise.

It is simply not true for the LCFPD to say they got the land for free. The 250+ acres that was deeded to the LCFPD was part of the entire 400 million dollar Fort Sheridan redevelopment plan that was paid for in full by the residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan. These are the facts!

The LCFPD has no right to ask that the deed restriction for a golf course be removed without entering into a new agreement with the Fort Sheridan residents through their representatives. The City of Highland Park has taken a clear and correct position against a unilateral removal of the deed restriction because no other compensation has been offered or negotiated as compensation for the deeded land.

The LCFPD needs to work with us on a partnership renegotiation framework to identify compensation including stormwater management, an agreed preserve plan, and a maintenance commitment so there is no doubt who is responsible. The plan should include amenities that promote peace, enjoyment, and respect to the historic history of Fort Sheridan. The LCFPD should also negotiate a purchase of additional open lands to make good their dollar commitment they gave to us. Don't forget, they promised 18-26 million dollars to this project after we put up 400 million. Get real and make it right. Let us work together within the reality of the spirit this project was born and get it done without any more conflict.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winter 2012 Round Up

The Lakota Group was selected for a cost of $57328.00 to help facilitate a planning exercise that will focus on our B4 zones to the North (triangle of Elm/GreenBay/First) and West of GreenBay by Central. While we will study our B5 (core downtown), a focus will be on redevelopment possibilities of B4. Signage, parking, and other adjustments could be discussed as well.

Renaissance Place was given a pass on parking to allow more office and restaurant place. Council action will give them the ability to park some additional 35+ cars at no addition cost.

Three Parking spaces were added in front of the Highland Park Theater... Can't get enough of those on street spaces in our downtown.

When I asked the the Executive Director of the Park District for an update on repairing the stairway from Central Avenue Park down to our beach President Scott Meyer told me not to ask her questions directly. I was told the protocol is to channel all questions through the President Scott Meyer. I guess if anyone has any questions about the Park District, Call Scott! I think he is listed.......

Western Avenue Communication Good

If you go to you can get updates and information about the project. The website shows maps, schedules, completion level, and pictures of the street showing the conditions and changes that will occur.

As I said at our City Council meeting, this is pretty cool and will be a boiler plate of how we deal with future projects that directly impact the citizens of Highland Park. I think it provides almost any kind of information that a resident could ask and gives a level of knowledge and transparency that we all demand.
Thank you staff for a great job.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Your Democratic Candidate for Lake County Board Dist. 11

I want to thank Everyone for taking the time to vote. The 3197 votes I received on March 20th was the highest count in all 21 Lake County Board district races of both the democratic and republican contests. Since I am now the official democratic candidate I will be spending some time attending committee meetings and getting more familiar with the discussions happening at the County Board and Forest Preserve.

With your help and support I will be elected in November to represent you on the Lake County Board. I will be sending out a letter to my supporters in the next few months kicking off my November election race.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Electric Aggregation - Let's Go Green, not Brown

UPDATE.... March 23rd Special City Council meeting. Hats off to Councilman Paul Frank for "getting it" and joining us in voting for the 100% Green Power option. This option would have saved us $19/mo. off current pricing on a average home while removing over 50 Million lbs. of emissions by using green power. On the good side staff did a great job getting individuals an option for green power at a reduced rate. Unfortunately looking at past experience only about 3% of homeowners are expected to take advantage of this offer so we must all pass the word........ Aggregation does work and was supported by over 75% of our voters. Reducing our costs and raising our green energy purchases, its not too bad!  You will be getting notification from the City over the next few months explaining the details.

At the March 12th City Council Meeting (click on Item 14 on agenda list to watch discussion video) we talked about the decision point of how much green power buy-in that Highland Park wanted to sign up for as part of our contract with our energy supplier.

The cost of savings by keeping the same brown power of 7% mandated green share would be about 30% off the currently charged Com Ed energy rate. We were shown the average bill was $77/month and that with the aggregation bids we would be able to lower these average rates to $54.25- $56.00 / month. That would be a savings of approximately $21.00 to $22.75 /month to the average homeowner.

Now looking at past bidding prices the cost of Green Energy represented by REC'S (Renewable Energy Credits) was about 2% more for a 100% Green Energy commitment from Highland Park. What this means is the cost would be only 1 to 2 dollars more per month and our savings from the current Com Ed energy charge would be $19.00 to 21.75/ month and we would be supporting a 100% green energy platform. (additional costs for 25% through 100% renewable energy over brown energy range from 25 cents a month to 2 dollars) We could not get any other Councilmembers to acknowledge the great importance of us integrating some level of green energy credits understanding the forthcoming impact of the vast majority of residents adopting this program by default.

As leaders in sustainability this was a no brainer for Councilman Jim Kirsch and myself but could not get the others on the City Council to sign on. By a 5-2 majority the City Council voted to not support any green energy REC'S and voted to write a Brown Energy contract to save 1-2 dollars MORE a month. Jim Kirsch and I were the only Council Members to support Green Energy REC integration in our supplier contract.

I was very disappointed in our City Council and very proud of my colleague Jim Kirsch for standing with me on this issue. How are we leaders in sustainability if we will not support green power with the majority commitment of the City of Highland Park.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

New City Manager David Knapp

David Knapp will start working as our new City Manager on May 14th and I could not be more excited about his arrival. We recieved over 100 applications and interviewed several excellent candidates for this position. Mr. Knapp has had a stellar career which has included a vast bandwidth of expirience and successes.

My expectations are huge in his ability to be our staff quarterback on the progressive policies this City Council has adopted. He is a man that has demonstrated strong leadership and will work with our City Council on getting the job done. I am proud of my fellow Council members on this choice and look forward to the great work we will be doing together.

Back on the Campaign Trail again!

Well.... I accepted an invitation to attend a get together in Deerfield to speak with Lake County United on the rebuilding of Winchester House and affordable housing in Lake County. While I thought it would be a discussion and an informative round table interaction, it actually turned out to be a full blown debate amongst about 11 candidates for County Board and the State Senate......

After being unopposed in the primary as the Democratic Candidate for County Board District 11 and being fully engaged in my current position as a Highland Park City Councilman, this DEBATE was like a push off the dock into the cold ice water of POLITICS... Hey, I am running for the County Board and I'm sure I was graded on a curve amongst all 11 candidates... While I was nervous and started out weaker than I wanted, I finished strong and was personally happy with what I shared with my gracious hosts.

This debate kind of kicked me into gear and actually sent me out to early vote today. I look forward to working with Lake County United and the many other volunteers that are engaged county wide in networking to help our residents.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do Aggregation with Green Option!

Highland Park is looking at electric aggregation and is working with 7 other communities on putting out an RFP for an electric provider. Issue is on the March 20th ballot. I asked if people were going to have an option of Green energy or Brown energy. The answer was that the community would pick the option and my concern is that it will be cheap and brown. There will be an opt out provision but I would much prefer the leverage of communities buying power supporting green power in some fashion. I proposed options for our consumers in the RFP but was not getting very much traction. Also, I am unclear how these contracts effect smart and net metering which we will rely on for future advancements in energy conservation.... Can people out there clarify some of these issues so we can properly promote Green energy and methodolgy in these deliberations... HP will have another public meeting in two weeks and vote on the ordinance the second meeting in March. Let's be educated voters and think before we DO.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Primary Election is March 20, 2012

on the March 20th election. You can get ballots by mail, early vote, or show up to the polls on election day... But please VOTE!!!
Important dates:
February 9, 2012 First day to request a ballot by mail.
February 21, 2012 Close of Voter Registration at the office of municipal and township clerks and with deputy registrars and agencies
February 22, 2012 Grace Period Reg./Address Change begins at County Clerk’s Office.
February 27, 2012 First day for early voting.
March 13, 2012 Last day for Grace Period Reg./Address Change at County Clerk’s Office.
March 15, 2012 Last day for early voting.

January 2012 Round Up

Students form HPHS came to visit with information on the Annual Charity Fund Drive. This year the students are raising money for the Leukemia Research Foundation. Check on the HPHS Website for updates and contribution info.  Join in!

Held our first Green Alliance meeting on 2-6. School Districts 112/113, our Park District, Lake County, city staff, and the Mayor and I were among many interested citizens that did participate. We need to create partnerships and secure leaders to promote our green agenda. Call me if you want IN!

Nova Teen Center is open for the teenagers and is located on the corner of Laurel and First Street. Nova Highland Park has live concerts, movies, field trips, and other activities for our youth. Hats off to David Small, resident and school 112 board member for getting this project off the ground.. Support and participate!

ICPC (Intra-City Parking Commission) was formed to create and manage commercial parking. Mike Belsky and I co-chaired the commission when we created the new parking structures along the tracks in downtown. Now back in this role with Councilman Paul Frank we want to work to provide more and effective parking for residents and shoppers. Snapping the whip for action again! Stay tuned!

Movement on the Theater project is ongoing and we continue to talk to respondents of the request for proposal. Many good and interesting things.....We should be out of closed land discussion soon! Very Exciting! I continue to be committed to the  Entertainment, Arts, and Theater in our downtown and will for work for this reality.

Water conservation will be a goal of this City Council and we are discussing ideas on production, rate methodology, partnerships, etc. Large bandwidth of topics and choices to chose from here so there will be many limbs to this tree for all of us to hang from..... Good or Bad, we will see!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

City Manager Process...... ongoing!

We have made progress on our search for the City Manager and have been very excited by the high volume and quality of respondents. I expect that the City Council will appoint a City Manager in early spring. As acting City Manager, our very own Patrick Brennan is doing a great job and we are very lucky to have him on board.

Our Senator Mark Kirk

Very troubling to hear the news about Senator Mark Kirk having a stroke. The good news is he made it through that event and will recover.  I know I join many in wishing Senator Kirk a quick and complete recovery. Senator Kirk has been a great citizen and supporter of ours in Highland Park and he will be in my prayers.
Whether it be supporting our schools, veterans, and open lands, Mark has always has been there for us.  Get well soon Mark!!!

Ethics again discussed

Over the years we have been strengthening our Ethics ordinance to remove the appearance or reality of  any conflict between our elected / appointed officials and outside interests. Currently, we are debating whether anybody who is an official of the City of Highland Park be allowed to represent (for hire) anyone in front of the City.  Currently, Commissioners are not allowed to represent others in front of their own commission.

This debate is weighing the risks of disenfranchising qualified citizens whom might do work with the city on behalf of themselves or others from sitting and contributing within our commission system of government. The point in this action would be to take away any perception of conflict that might be caused by these dual roles commissioners might hold. Expert advice and participation in our system is a must for us to make good decisions. Can we recruit quality commissioners under a stricter code and should we disenfranchise those professional citizens that have conflicts? While these questions have not been easy for most, I side on a more restrictive option to remove any doubt or possibility of conflict.

The Council has asked Councilman Blumberg and Kaufman to dig into this one more time and report back to the Council for another discussion.

Lobbying Ordinance

Councilman Paul Frank has sponsored an ordinance to register folks who are paid to appear in front of the City to represent others. This ordinance is moving forward and will be on a City Council agenda soon. The ordinance as presented should not impact many or cost us much to implement. It will provide an online list of those hired to push (for or against) issues of public policy or actions to be taken by the City.

Park and 41 CVS and Starbucks gets approval

UPDATE!!  The development on Park and 41 got a preliminary approval (5-2) from the City Council. We will continue to work with the State to promote a better flow of traffic. I expect the developer to be back for final development approval in short order.

Green Town Highland Park gets Green Light!

We will be holding a Green Highland Park conference on sustainability on or about October 17, 2012. Looking forward to working with fellow Green Folks on developing a program that will give our participants a "Wow" experience.

This workshop will be centered on Highland Park and how we can work with our neighbors and citizens to promote clean energy, cultural arts, other sustainable practices to enhance our lives and community. Over the next several months we will be meeting with leaders to develop a program that will be engaging, informative, and enlightening for all those attending.

Please contact me with your thoughts for presentations and programs for this event...