Thursday, December 26, 2013

One Government One People

The title is a little over simplification because the issue is very complex . . .but many governments for one people is just a big waste of resources and the taxpayers money. If this was a simple nut to crack I would have been more successful over the years but EGO's and entrenched redundant services blanket all of our region. I have been told that the level of service and respect that Highland Park or Deerfield or Lake Forest give their citizens could not be achieved in consolidation. HOGWASH! We have very similar operations with high expectations in every community. How about CONTROL and governance over any consolidations? Does anybody think that any of us really have control over the day to day operations we currently enjoy? We hire professionals to deal with those matters and their performance data is examined in a timely manner by our elected policy makers. If performance is not achieved than a professional change is made. The major change would be the savings of tax dollars spent on redundant buildings, administrations, vehicles, and small inefficient networks.

The discussion and implementation of government efficiency has been spouted by almost all public officials yet reorganizations of the unsustainable government frameworks are virtually unchanged. 

Should I care if my public works, police, fire, development, or administration says Highland Park, OR ACME ? ? Does it trouble us it does not say Ravinia, Moraine, Woodridge, Braeside, Highlands or Sunset? Highland Park has a population of under 30,000 and other towns nearby have from a few thousand to about twenty thousand. Highland Park covers about 12.5 square miles and others a little bigger and smaller. Lake County, the government that I represent, has about 700,000 people in in and around 51 incorporated communities.

Now there have been a few issues over the years where my opinions might not be shared by a majority of residents and I would like to hear from you on this matter. Would it trouble you if one of Highland Park's departments were shared with Deerfield, Highwood, Lake Forest, Bannockburn, Lincolnshire and/or Lake Bluff?  You have to ask yourself how many 10 million dollar jails/communication centers do we need for 50,000 people or 100,000 people? What is the best practice? Can we combine governments under one roof ?

Yes, some redundant government jobs will be lost, but can we keep people living in our communities that just can pay anymore taxes and fees? I am hopeful that our County Chairman will move forward in 2014 on this discussion and allow us to reach out for partners to study new governance models in Lake County. Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Emailed "On The Table" Newsletter will be replaced by Tweets of this Blog

Over the past 10 or 15 years I have been sending out emailed political newsletters. Because I have a Lake County Newsletter published every few weeks I figured that enough was enough and not to also send out my political rag (On The Table).

I have heard from many folks how much they liked my sharp tonged babble, when not pointing at them, and were disappointed that I was not sending it out.

The "On the Table" Newsletter has been a snapshot of this blog for many years. I am thinking a way to get my opinions out to a wider audience is to send tweets out when I publish on my blog. If folks want to be a follower of @StevenWMandel at twitter they can and will be notified of my "On The Table" rants real time......

I will send out one blast in the near future to let folks know of the new plan and those whom might want to follow can sign up.... STEVE

Friday, November 15, 2013

Proposal to increase city property taxes 4.85% is scary and wrong

Update- the revised tax levy was just double tax cap at 4.85 %

During the 20 years I served on the city council (1993-2012) we had a budget policy that limited increases in our property tax levy at or below the Illinois Tax Cap percentage. Even though we were a home rule community that was not limited by tax cap, we chose to lead by example and keep our property tax increase at or many times below the Illinois Tax Cap. In recent years after the recession, the City Councils I served on choose to freeze the levy to help homeowners recover from great equity losses and income reductions. The proposition that our property values have decreased dramatically yet taxes continue to skyrocket has to be stopped. We do not live for our governments, they are suppose to support us with realistic taxation.

It is absurd for this Council to ask citizens to pony up 85 dollars more per 500k value. Instead of the current attitude of beginning with how much the government needs as business as usual we need to have compassion for the citizenry, understand their tax payment capacity, and provide services and government accordingly.

Instead of bragging about large increases in spending on infrastructure and public safety with no regard for cost, we need to start with a cap on spending and do whatever it takes to build a responsible budget that services the needs of our community, not the wants of a few.

To blame this all on the State is wrong. We can hire less people, negotiate less benefits, or even outsource if labor costs stay unreasonable. The City Councils I sat on had positioned ourselves to make significant progress in this realm and I was hopeful the future government would keep steering in this sustainable path. To throw your hands up, blame the State, and further burden our citizens is not the answer. Yes, there are hard choices to make for future operations of our governments, not just the City of Highland Park.

Step One - Protect the Taxpayers and Citizens.  Step Two - Live within our means and pull back spending. Step Three - Respect past commitments to our employees and create a new framework for future labor that is sustainable within the economy we have before us. It should not always be the Taxpayer footing the bill but rather employees too sharing in the pains of the downturned economy. This can be done in cooperation and a fair benefit package for our employees that respects the contributions of the citizenry.

Do not raise our taxes and pursue remedies that will reduce the escalating economic pressures on the residents of our communities.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Open Letter on Higher Densities in HP Downtown

Dear Mayor, City Council, and Commissioners,

 As a lifelong resident, past Councilman and Plan Commissioner, I would like to make the following concerned comments on the proposed zoning change.

I would suggest that staff recommendations to increase unit densities from 15 units per acre up to 81 units and increase height from 40 feet to 60 is extreme over kill and reflective of zonings only seen in larger cities or other towns that have very little in common with the culture and values of Highland Park. One does not need a sledge hammer to our zoning when a minor adjustment was requested to modestly increase residential use of the CBD area.

In the current B4 district (which was the intended focus of this study) 30 to 40 units per acre with a 4th story (which is set back) is enough of an increase to tweak future residential build out.

 In the late 90’s, after 100’s of neighborhood and property owner meetings, zoning was reduced from a maximum 60 foot height to 40 feet and 3 stories (a 4th story allowed in PUD with setback), reflecting the character of the North Shore and Highland Park. This was the resident’s response to the Optima building and concern of the changing character in the community.

The concept of modestly increasing density within a similar historic vision and bulk of our town center is reasonable. The proposed changes from the staff are not and need to be rejected as proposed. It was also notable that a traffic and retail capacity studies of this area, whether done in the past or present were not considered. Highland Park’s lack of major arterial connections has always played a major factor in the analysis of future growth capacity. This capacity directly relates to our enjoyment.  I again suggest a modest adjustment instead of the promotion of the significant changes proposed by staff.  If one was to hold public meetings across the city on this issue the response would be very similar to mine.   Please call me if you wish to discuss.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Early Voting and Election Day Polling Place Changes

The Highland Park police station located on 1677 Old Deerfield Road will be the New Early Voting Site, replacing the Community Health Center on Green Bay Road. There will be plenty of parking and space for voters to get in and out quickly.

At the request of North Shore School District 112, we have also moved election day voting sites from Red Oak School, Ravinia School, and Lincoln School. To replace school sites we have added more precincts to Ravinia Festival, transferred some to a new Immaculate Conception site, and will also use the Police Station on election day. All new sites have plenty of parking and will provide easy access.

Our County Clerk Willard Helander has been a great help responding to the requests from our schools. Willard had her staff work with Mayor Rotering and myself to provide good polling place alternatives for election day and early voting. The change in the early voting site will accommodate easier access to more citizens and provide opportunities for future efficiencies during our county election process.

More information will be forthcoming from our County Clerk and our local towns in the near future but wanted to give everyone a heads up since the Lake County Board approved the changes on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Representation as a Lake County Board Member and LCFPD Commish

My County Board and Forest Preserve District 11 is most of Highland Park, all of Highwood, and one neighborhood in Deerfield. While I do reach out to our municipal leaders and citizens in District 11 as my primary responsibility, representation does not end at the district border.

I am proud to represent everyone of our 704,000 folks in Lake County and am one of 21 on these boards that are responsible for their health, welfare, safety, and enjoyment of our County. While approximately 75,000 folks are not represented by a municipality live under our protection, land use, and authority, they are mostly part of a community ruled by one or several municipalities within proximity of their residence or business.

We need to be harmonious with those municipalities and encompassing communities that our unincorporated residents and business live and operate within. Sometimes ordinances and laws we might enact are not perfect for all our unincorporated residents since Lake County communities do not live under the same laws. At these times we must come up with a consensus that best serves all our residents even though it is not perfect.

A good example of this came at our August board meeting where I supported video gaming in Lake County (vote was 11-9 in favor). Unincorporated Lake County tavern business owners were unfairly prohibited from having video gaming while many of the North and Western municipalities had legalized video gaming within their boundaries. Competing taverns that could have these machines were as close as across the street. Revenues and demand put our unincorporated business owners in jeopardy since clients wanted an option to play these games.

The State of Illinois legalized video gaming several years ago unless a municipal authority objected within their borders. When the State passed this law the County enacted an ordinance to prohibit video gaming in Lake County hoping that municipalities would follow. Unfortunately, many have recently revoked prohibiting laws and are now allowing video gaming causing us to deal with the matter.

Highland Park, Highwood, and Deerfield are not directly impacted by this decision since video gaming is currently prohibited. 

However, I am also a County Board member for all the unincorporated business owners and was proud to help them stay in business, provide for their families, and keep their employees working.

Fairness For All Citizens of Lake County

I have been on the County Board and Forest Preserve District for about 8 months now and really appreciate my colleagues from all districts. Every one of them has shown me sincerity and the ability to bring positive voices to the table. The diversity of culture, age, history, and political views is much broader than my public service experience in Highland Park.

At the Forest Preserve we are entering a strategic planning process to identify our future direction and set priorities for development, land acquisition, and operations. At the County we are moving forward with our 2014 budget and awaiting the presentation from staff.

One thing that strikes you when you get involved in county government and forest preserves is the difference in needs and services throughout the county. Also, the county serves as a pass through for federal and state dollars focused on housing, health care, and job training to name a few.

We also have several special service districts where we take direct taxes and fees for services like sewers and water. We contract other services with municipalities as well to provide greater efficiency
and lower cost to taxpayers.

Now, over the next five years we have budgeted over 550 million dollars on roads and transportation for county roads. While this is funded from ALL residents throughout Lake County the money is spent mostly on county roads. As we move forward in our budget process we need to change our policy to allow a fair share of monies to construct and maintain transportation infrastructure in parts of the county that are currently serviced by municipalities. While I agree that county money should be spent on regional networks of roads, bridges, and pedestrian ways, they should not be required to be owned by the County to receive funding. Does it make sense that a large portion of citizens in the county should pay twice as much for transportation as others for the same service?

The forest preserve has over 50 million left in funding from the referendum money of land acquisition and development. This money has to be spent within the next several years to satisfy current laws governing these bonds. How can we integrate the mission of the forest preserve to help us fund open space, recreation, and natural preservation in areas that have again not received a fair share. Hopefully we can work to bring the mission of the forest preserve in name and substance to all of us throughout the county in a more equitable manner.

Money going out of districts throughout the county should in a large part have direct benefit to those in those districts. The Lake County Forest Preserve and Lake County get about 11 percent of your property taxes. That is the same amount as the City and Park District combined yet who is responsible for transportation, open space, land preservation, and recreation where you live. In several municipal areas throughout the county the imbalance is huge and we need to bring fairness to all citizens of the County so ALL get their fair share.

I hope to make some progress on this issue of fairness to all in the next coming months. Change is not easy and many think that current practices are the best choices but with all due respect I ask for change. I am encouraged by the thoughtfulness and big picture outlook I have seen from many on the board. All of us represent our district as well as ALL the residents of the County. I have personally stepped up for other areas in this county far from Highland Park and ask my fellow Board Members to consider my comments and join me in fairness for all on taxation and delivery of service.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Commissioner Applications.... for "Election Commission"

Update- We won a preliminary injunction to allow our Clerk to administer the elections and prevent Judge Foreman from appointing an election commission. So, why I appreciate those of you that applied, all is on hold until we have our day in court on this issue.

I am hopeful however our state legislators will fix this matter and put it to rest when they return to Springfield removing this "Gotcha" legislation for Lake County...

 If we are unsuccessful in stopping this pitiful legislation, HB2418 requires Chief Judge Foreman to appoint a five member "Election Commission" which will over see elections in Lake County.

The News Release issued by Chief Judge Foreman sets forth the process required by law. Applications and other forms are available on the site and must be returned by August 16th to conform to the timeline laid out by the HB2418 legislation.

If you wish to apply for the position of "Election Commissioner" you need to do so immediately to fall within timeline. Requirements prevent those that currently hold elected office or have held an elected office within the last 2 years from being a "Election Commissioner".

Chief Judge Foreman must appoint the five commissioners by end of August and the "Election Board" must be up and running by the end of October.

The New Metra Board must be accountable to citizens

Well, now after the second scandal in just a short time we must demand a big change on how the Metra board does business. While I am not thrilled on how our newly Lake County appointment Norman Carlson has conducted himself the short few months he has been on the board, he does have the expertise to make good decisions. His political and administrative decisions so far have failed us.

Whether this board is totally removed or all resigns, I am hoping collar counties do not lose a voice in the Metra process. Any appointment has a level of politics whether it be the Governor, Mayors, or County Board Chairman. Bottom line is that these jobs should be filled with competent non-political decision makers. If appointees can't be accountable to the citizens maybe the professional staff should just report to currently elected officials quarterly for policy decisions.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quinn Costs Lake County residents 100's of thousands of dollars with the stroke of his pen

BIG UPDATE>>>  Governor, Now you have a chance to write the wrong since we received a temporary injunction to stop this bad legislation in its tracks. Please push for legislation to remedy this injustice to Lake County ASAP.... This is now again in your hands.. .. .. ..

Governor Quinn did cost Lake County residents a projected $700,000 plus by signing HB 2418 into law. HB2418 requires only Lake County to establish an election commission, an entirely new branch of government. There was No referendum, No Lake County resident discussions, No communication with our Lake County government officials, just a poke in the eye to our residents and our Lake County Clerk by a Renegade State Senator.

As a Lake County Board member and a fellow democrat I am stunned and disappointed at the 1950's politics still used down in Springfield by the so called "Power Brokers" and now condoned by Governor Quinn.

This injustice must not be ignored or allowed to stand. Fighting political bullies like these perpetrators is a must and I will not be silent until this wrong is righted. Stand with us and call your state representatives to protest.... Email or call me for more details.
UPDATE - We have filed suit to attempt to stop this HB2418 legislation from effecting our election process. Governor Quinn as responded that he was justified passing this legislation in total because it enabled Online registration... Would he feel the same about the legislation if they snuck in a law that enabled residents to wear six guns on their side?? Bottom line is this backroom, bullying type of politics that Quinn has endorsed must stop. Support Lake County and let legislators know you are not happy about bullying legislation that just targets Lake County and no one else!

Friday, July 05, 2013

70 MPH on the Tollway sounds good to me.

Traveling across the country in the auto is mostly boring these days and I don't do it too often. Having to slow down to 55, 60, or even 65 is even more grueling. Spending time in New Mexico the interstates are all 75 mph and it is great on making time on long road trips. All of these super highways and interstates are designed to accommodate 75 mph traffic safely.

I was very happy to see the legislature pass the 70 mph allowance in Illinois and am hopeful to see it on all interstates and our tri-state toll way system. While understanding that County's will have a chance to opt out, I don't think this will ever come up for a vote. . . . . .  But if it does, I will support the 70 mph speed limit.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Just a spectator in this years parade and Happy Fourth to ALL

Well, I think I will be on the sidewalk for the first time in 20 years watching the parade on the 4th of July. Last year I rode on the fire truck and had my wife drive the Electric Nissan Leaf with the Natural Resource Commission as a promotion of clean energy and zero emissions. This year I am happy to sit and watch all the politicians, musicians, merchants, organizations, and invited entertainment march on by. Happy Independence Day to All and enjoy this glorious holiday!

Big Dogs are Cool

Big Dogs will be on display through July 26th. Art is a very cool part of Highland Park. We are lucky to have several Art Shows visit us throughout the year and this new exhibit in front of City Hall and our downtown is no exception. Check them out while you shop and eat!!  RUFF!!

Pushing for a Green Courthouse Tower

Shortly after I was sworn in on the Lake County Board I asked staff about the work that had gone into making our new Court Tower project Green. I have been assured that while Lake County does not look for any Leeds designation, that any green cost effective measure has been analyzed and moved forward if it makes sense.

It seems to me that promoting green infrastructure on a 100 million dollar project in a Green County is a no brainer... I will continue to dig into the project and look for opportunities to promote the GREEN. Clean Air, Clean Water, and a healthy habitat is important to our residents and that point is of great value in trying to promote this GREEN agenda.... Stay tuned.!!

Construction and Demolition Recycling

The Lake County Board just passed a Construction and Demolition Recycling ordinance that requires recycling of material on structures over 1500 square feet. This ordinance is stricter that our City of Highland Parks ordinance that only requires recycling on structures over 2500 square feet.

Again, Walter Willis and SWALCO has been instrumental in providing leadership to our Public Works and Transportation Committee on moving forward on the recycling issue. In accordance with our 60% recycling objectives and commitment, I am hopeful Highland Park and other Lake County communities will move forward in increasing their recyclables accordingly.

Guns, Violence, and the USA

There is no doubt that we are overwhelmed with gun violence in Chicago and this nation. Family break down, mental illness, economics, and social failures have given fuel to this problem.

We are a nation that rules the world with peaceful assistance and the mighty arm of our military. Armed soldiers, missiles, drones, bombs, and many other deliveries of death are used by us daily to protect our great nation. To say that we do not live by the gun is not reality. We are not a non-violent nation within and without.  I do support the use of our might to level those enemies in this world that want our destruction. It is interesting to me that when we depend on violence so often to deal with  our enemies and terrorists, some Americans believe in total passive resistance when it comes to us personally in our homes and community.

Dealing with criminal events within our country is complex and should always demand our attention. With the Supreme Court ruling on personal rights to carry firearms we need to focus on remedies that are legal and can help us mitigate criminal firearm violence. With all the issues that face our municipalities and state, I have little tolerance to watch my tax dollars fight a battle that has already been decided. I also don't think the City of Highland Park should pass ordinances that will not increase safety in our community and only continue to divide our citizens.

The City Council of Highland Park voted 6-1 to pass a assault weapons ban in Highland Park. During one of my initial terms on the City Council I had the pleasure of negotiating our 20 year ordinance between Highland Park firearm owners and the ladies from the League of Women Voters that wanted a total ban. From that discussion we passed a law that prevented any sale of firearms in Highland Park and regulated handguns to individuals by requiring registration with the City and taking a course on gun safety. I thought it was a good compromise at the time that has seemed to work for the past 20 years. With the recent court rulings my understanding is that our old ordinance is now on shaky ground.

While I personally don't need to have an "Assault Weapon" as defined by the new city ordinance, I don't see that this firearm is any different from the many thousands of other semi-automatic firearms that are currently in Highland Park. Yes, there are thousands of guns currently owned by law abiding residents in Highland Park. Laws regarding personal firearm ownership in a small town like ours only causes conflict and continued disobedience to the legal system we must uphold. As most citizens have had enough with government inaction, over taxation, and intrusion, I would ask this City Council to retreat from this current position and let the State and Federal government deal with these issues.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Together, we can do a better job

Over the last few months I have met with Elected Officials and Staff in Highland Park, Highwood, and Deerfield to discuss how Lake County government can help network, reduce costs, and create efficiencies for local government. Additional meetings are planned and the conversation will continue.

I have been joined by the County Chairman Aaron Lawlor, my colleagues Member Ann Maine, Member Mike Rummel, and County staff to take notes and find points of commonality to build a better future Lake County government model.

Over the past few weeks the County Board has discussed this goal and is on the way to further incorporating it in our strategic plan, exploring opportunities, and promoting operations based on a shared premise.

While we are currently working with local governments on future transportation projects, joint building inspections, and other matters, I am hopeful that during the summer months you will see the County step up this collaboration initiative to increase progress on additional governance models that will reduce overall costs to taxpayers.

Budget Time in Lake County

Well, we are looking at budget policies for Lake County and getting our first glimpse at the proposed budget from the staff at the Lake County Forest Preserve District. We will be receiving the Lake County budget from staff around the end of the summer.

For the several of us that our new we have many questions about ways to reduce costs and save money for our citizens. One thing I have always stated to anyone that will listen is that I work for the citizens of Lake County, not the governments. Lake County and the Lake County Forest Preserve District are managerial style governments for whom we hire management and then are put in trust of directing policies that the management needs to incorporate in their programs.

During this process I will be asking many questions, making suggestions, and requesting performance data for analysis and future recommendations to my fellow board members.  A lot to learn so..... Stay Tuned!!

Highland Park Theater needs to Open its doors . . . .

Hey, enough is enough. We need to put the money into the HP Theater that will make it safe and get those doors open. Myself and many others are available to help this happen if the Council and Mayor wish to get moving. Enough with the past slamming of what we could have done or should have done. Enough with the past rhetoric of if we should have bought it or should not of bought it. Enough of demonizing those of us that put the deal together leaving the citizens holding the bag.

We need leadership from folks that love theater, love this community, that are willing to make something happen today and come up with a short and long term strategy. Past City Councils negotiated the Ravinia Festival Fee that is now producing over 3/4 of a million a year as the nexus to this theater redevelopment before we even negotiated to purchase. I am so sick and tired of hearing how we had wasted taxpayers money when in fact we imported a large amount of out-of-towners money to initiate this progressive program to reinvigorate our downtown and cultural arts.

Stand up and stand proud and get these doors open soon. Fix the safety issues within the legal codes so people are safe, put in new seats, digital projectors, and lets start having fun at the Highland Park Theater again. The Ravinia revenue source is growing every year and this funding can create jobs, support our restaurants, and bring increase vitality to our downtown. Let's get on with it!!!

New Council Folks can hit ground running....

Congratulations to my endorsements that DID get elected to the Highland Park City Council - Kim Stone, Dan Kaufman, and Alyssa Knobel.. Actually, while I might want to think I had some impact on this election, these fine candidates won on their own hard work, dedication to matters important to our community, and their tools and capacity to create constructive change. While they don't have the years of institutional knowledge some of us have, they know where us old fogy's are and surely will reach out for our historical prospective.

New governance models to reduce costs, business revival and retention, sustainability, and community networking needs to be front and center with this new group as they head off from the starting line. After Nancy got elected Mayor I do regret we never had that retreat to work out our Council Vision for the community. I would encourage this City Council to hold a retreat with a facilitator to help create the group vision and goals as a first step A.S.A.P. My number is 847.831.0373 if you wish to talk folks...... Go Get Em!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Early Voting Begins Monday March 25th

PLEASE VOTE EARLY........Starting Monday, March 25 until Saturday, April 6, all early voting is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can vote at the Lake County North Shore Health Center at 1840 Green Bay Rd. in Highland Park. Phone number is 847.984.5323 .

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kim Stone is my #1 vote for City Council

Along with fiscal responsibility and core service support, our community leadership and commitment to our Environment is of great importance to me. While I am supporting three City Council candidates that care about the environment, only Kim Stone has demonstrated strong passionate leadership on the subject.

Almost a year ago our City Council had a chance to promote 100 percent Green Power and still slash the cost of electricity with our aggregation process. Only myself, Jim Kirsch, and Paul Frank voted to support this renewable energy alternative. The Mayor and 3 Councilman found reasons not to go green and supported the BROWN option. This showed me who was willing to stand up and make a difference. Kim Stone has a true and solid commitment to support our community's commitment to the environment and that is why she will be my 1st vote when I cast my ballot.

Kim Stone will be the strong and passionate environmental voice that Highland Park needs on City Council. During my 20 years on City Council, I advocated on behalf of the environment, as did Joyce O’Keefe before me.  With my departure for County Board, we need someone who can provide environmental leadership on the Highland Park City Council, protecting and preserving our natural resources for future generations.  Kim Stone is that person.  With 20 years of professional experience on issues ranging from energy efficiency and renewable technology to pollution prevention to transportation, Kim Stone has the knowledge and commitment we need on City Council.  In addition to her environmental background, Kim has experience managing tight budgets and will ensure that the City uses taxpayer money efficiently and effectively. Please join me in voting for Kim Stone.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The way I see things...

April 9th is the Election Day that voters will choose who fills my seat for the past 20 years on the Highland Park City Council. My respect for the citizens of this town is enormous and I am enthusiastically endorsing Kim Stone to sit in that seat for the next four years. Please support and vote for Kim Stone.

I have endorsed others for the City Council, Park District, School Boards, and have my opinion on the referendum being floated by 113. I do have four signs on my lawn if you wish to look at 2157 St. Johns Ave.......

If anyone would like to discuss my views on these endorsements or subjects please call me at 847.831.0373 or 847.456.6933. My email is if you would prefer to email me.  PLEASE VOTE, the earlier, the better!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How Lake County Can Help Us?

On April 11th and April 24th, the County Board will be reviewing the data from the public to tweak our Strategic Plan. As you may know, the two priorities I have adopted in my first year on the board is to work with Chairman Lawlor to adopt a better regional governance model to increase efficiency and reduce costs as well as set up a county driven sustainability leadership model.

In past public discussions these themes have shown strong public support. To be able to achieve these goals starting with consensus of the board is required. Our strategic plan process will give all of us and the staff direction to spend monies and delegate staff time over the next several years. I look forward to the April meetings being a launching point for these endeavors and will give you updates as we proceed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sign Up.. for my County Newsletter

Please sign up for my Lake County Newsletter at my County Website. Or I can sign you up if you email me at . This newsletter will inform you of current news, web links, meetings, etc. It will also include Forest Preserve items and personal comments as I fine tune the format.... PLEASE SIGN UP..

Property Taxes Grow and Increases Stress

In 2013 there will be increased property taxes for schools (112 and 113), our city, and additional costs of water, sewer, and many other costs associated in living at my residence. How much more can you take before your savings are gone or at a minimum cause concern about the future security of your life.

While I have been in government for 20 years now beating the drum of new governance models that reduce costs, very little has been done to change the framework of current government models. This being said, I always support maintaining our buildings and assets that produce the services we require. Yes, we have reduced staff and now have several bare limbs(departments) on the tree (government), but it is time to plant a new smaller tree (government) that does not have bare limbs (departments) and does not grow to the size of past and current trees (governments).

While my wife Linda and I still have a small margin of funds to encumber increased costs of property taxes, many residents have exceeded those limits and many of us have immense stress added to our lives by increases in government costs. Also, the reality is I do not want to pay more! Actually, I want to pay less for the services I receive! I know there are many economically comfortable folks that have the dollars to pay more, but a large portion of the current population are on a reduced or fixed income and just can't take anymore. HOW WILL GOVERNMENT RESPOND?

The answer is reducing administration, consolidation, outsourcing, shared services, a contribution defined pension system, and a willingness of elected officials to spend the time needed to create a framework that changes governments,.......... AND the WILL to fight through the adversities that are coming to accommodate major change. At the County, I will continue to cultivate new governance models.

Friday, January 18, 2013


When I saw the NEON SIGN and heard what happened at City Hall I was very surprised. How can we allow anyone to put a sign like this one that is contrary to the code up and then condone those actions. Maybe someone can tell me under which standards this was allowed?

This sign is ugly and does not belong in our community. Are we Las Vegas or Ohio street in downtown Chicago? Just my opinion and I have not had the pleasure of reading the packet or staff report but I would say this City Council was moved by the "Billy" thing and not the proper standards of our design review ordinance and code...... Shame, Shame, Shame....  Bet you folks are missing me now!! Right!

Winchester House and Senior Care

One of the first issues I was challenged on when I ran for Lake County Board was my position on rebuilding Winchester House, a nursing home located in Libertyville and owned by the County.

Over the next few months we will be studying the options of how to replace the facility and continue to offer a safety net to those Lake County seniors that do not have money to afford decent care.

What I am learning is that the dynamics of this care is changing by the hour and careful thought and analysis are required to come up with a solution that will carry us well into the future. Assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing have all been redefined with a focus on specialty care and the dollars available from Medicare, Medicaid, and overall changes to federal laws. What use to be a nursing home visit or residence is now more specialized on more acute care.

Anyway, I am just getting into this stuff and will write more about the decision points in the future.

Density Proposal Increase for Downtown

Keep your eye on what is being discussed at the City about changing the zoning in our downtown. I attended a meeting last night with the Plan Commission, Design Review, and the City Council where I was stunned to see a recommendation that was clearly pointing towards tripling the unit density, raising heights of buildings to 60+ feet and 5+ stories, and reducing parking requirements some 25+%.

Now, when this process started .... I was excited about visioning and master planning for our downtown (currently focused on Sunset foods and North of Elm). All had agreed that some adjusting of zoning needed to occur so additional density could occur within a modest increase in volume of buildings in these B4 perimeter sites. This adjustment would allow owners to use modestly increased bulk to promote redevelopment of these underutilized areas that could become contributing to our community.

What I heard last night could just simply take the lid off of our zoning and push the pedal to the medal on uncontrolled development regulations. I guess it is figured that since it is so hard to make money on any development, certain folks are desperate enough to allow almost anything!

Then again, maybe it is just SOME HP folks that want more of everything and don't appreciate the level of excitement us old timers can handle.  Seriously, the quality of life for us folks that live here and have business here needs to be thoroughly examined on how any change impacts the rest of us. Traffic, retail competition, small town ambiance, and public costs associated with increased development must be evaluated. We must be sure the pill we take for the current slow economy is not a poisoned one. Stay Tuned!!