Another Retailed Spooked by County’s Continuous Flow Intersection Plan

The letter below was sent to McHenry County Engineer Joseph Korpalski by a new retailer in the Chicago market, Art Van Furniture.

Its Real Estate Manager Lee Winter indicates that his firm is not interested in locating her if a Continuous Flow Intersection is constructed.

The reason is the restriction of current access points that would be required by a CFI.

Art Van Furniture tells Lake in the Hills it is no longer interested in the corner of Randall and Algonquin Roads.

Art Van Furniture tells McHenry County it is no longer interested in the corner of Randall and Algonquin Roads.

Will County Board Decides on No Raises for Elected Officials

Will County Seal

Will County Seal

This is the time of the election cycle that pay raises come before county boards for discussion.

In Will County, proposals to raise the county board and the countywide officials were advanced by the at-large elected County Board Chairman’s Chief of Staff.

The County Board has shot down his suggestions.  (From the article in the Suburban Life, I see the head of the legislative branch is called the “Speaker.”)

In McHenry County salary hikes don’t seem to have surfaced in any committee.

TIF Fraud

The purpose of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts was to provide assistance in developing distressed property.

The definition has been so broadened by the legislature that developments like the Huntley Outlet Mall got TIF money  Those shops were built on empty land next to a Tollway interchange.

Not exactly distressed property.

They all divert money from all other tax districts (mainly schools) in the area.

At worst, they can provide slush funds for municipal officials to reward favored developers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following press release about misuse of TIF money today:

RIVERDALE MARINA RE-DEVELOPER ARRESTED ON FEDERAL CHARGES FOR ALLEGEDLY DEFRAUDING THE VILLAGE OF $370,000 IN PUBLIC FUNDS

CHICAGO — A Chicago real estate developer was arrested today on federal charges alleging that he defrauded the south suburban Village of Riverdale of public funds provided for the redevelopment of the now closed-Riverdale Marina.

The defendant, JOHN THOMAS, allegedly fraudulently obtained approximately $370,000 for himself from $900,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) payments in 2012 and used the public funds to repay personal loans and debts, legal fees, rent and other personal expenses.

Thomas, 51, of Chicago, was charged with three counts of wire fraud in a federal grand jury indictment that was returned Wednesday and unsealed today after his arrest. He is expected to be arraigned later today in U.S. District Court.

Thomas owned and controlled Nosmo Kings LLC, which had offices at 215 West Ontario St., in Chicago, and at the Riverdale Marina, 13100 South Halsted St., in Riverdale, which consisted of boat docks and a restaurant on 11 acres along the Little Calumet River.

Between February and April 2012, Riverdale paid Thomas’s company $900,000 in TIF funds for three phases of construction and reimbursement based on false supporting documents.

Thomas used a portion of the money for legitimate renovations costs while fraudulently using approximately $370,000 for his personal benefit.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $370,000.

According to the indictment, Nosmo Kings entered into a TIF agreement with Riverdale in February 2012.

Riverdale’s TIF program allowed taxpayer funds to be used to redevelop certain property in the village.

Under the agreement, Riverdale agreed to reimburse Nosmo Kings’ expenses up to $1.2 million as long as the total renovation costs equaled or exceeded approximately $5.25 million.

The TIF funds were to be disbursed in four phases, each capped at $300,000, after Nosmo Kings paid for and completed each phase of construction.

To obtain TIF funds, Thomas was required to submit certain documents identifying completed construction expenses, including invoices from and checks paid to vendors.

In early 2012, Thomas allegedly created and submitted fake invoices for non-existent companies and for companies that never performed work at the marina in order to fraudulently obtain reimbursement from the village.

The indictment alleges he submitted numerous false documents supporting reimbursement for expenses that he had not incurred.

These included

  • $132,000 and $8,815 in payments to contractors for construction work;
  • $22,994 for an insurance policy that was later cancelled for non-payment; and
  • $56,000 and $67,000 for construction supplies using the same supporting invoices and receipts to double-bill the village.

The indictment alleges that Thomas claimed $25,750 for construction supplies from a company that was actually a currency exchange he owed money, and he submitted other fraudulent documents to obtain payment of tens of thousands of dollars to law firms and an individual attorney for personal legal fees for himself and one of his employees.

Thomas used other TIF funds to pay his apartment rent, the charges allege.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Zachary Fardon

Zachary Fardon

The arrest and indictment were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Advice about ID Theft Problems with Garbage

This comes from Marengo police Chief Joseph M. Hallman by way of K Ottolino’s Citizens Alert Social Media Network.

(She writes, “If you know of anyone that would like to be added to this list, please have them email me at Rio.2001@hotmail.com.)

To All Concerned McHenry County Citizens,

Chief Hallman passed this on for our network and I thought it was worth forwarding to all of you:

Can you place something under alerts / scams on the City Web Site regarding recent reports of theft of full garbage bags left out for pick up? The motivation might be to obtain some personal information so we always encourage the purchase of a shredder to dispose of said items thoroughly.

The individuals are not removing the recycling material from containers adjacent to these bags which would have some value possibly so this leads me to believe they could indeed be looking for items with personal information on them.

15 Year Old Jose Esquivel Drowns in Haligus Road Pond

These three press releases tell what officials have released.

First form the Crystal Lake Fire Department:
CL Fire Haligus Rd Drowning 4-18-14Next from Dr. Anne Majewski, Coroner of McHenry County:
Maj 4-18-14Majewski sent a second release identifying the youth as Jose A. Esquivel.

The 16-year old's name is

The 15-year old’s name is Jose A. Esquivel.

2nd Ethics Complaint against Andy Zinke Dismissed for Lack of Sufficiency

Undersheriff Andy Zinke was taken off the ethics hook for a second time before the McHenry County Ethics Commission Thursday afternoon.

This mailing was submitted as evidence.

This mailing was submitted as evidence.

Former Sheriff’s Deputy Zane Seipler filed the complaint along with evidence of Zinke having had his photo taken in the Harvard Police Department with Harvard policemen as a backdrop.  The clock on the wall read slightly after three.

The second piece of evidence submitted was a dvd of the Chicago ABC news story on the Sheriff’s race.

Zinke’s part of the story is shot in the Sheriff’s Office.

The beginning of the segment on Andy Zinke shows this wall in the Sheriff's Office.

Near the beginning of the segment on Andy Zinke shows this wall in the Sheriff’s Office.

Zinke is seen in his office.

Andy Zinke is interviewed in his office.  Not the text under Zinke's name reads, "

Andy Zinke is interviewed in his office. Not the text under Zinke’s name reads, “(R) CANDIDATE MCHENRY COUNTY SHERIFF.”

Campaign literature is seen on a desk or table.

Zinke for Sheriff campaign literature is seen in the ABC story, presumably on a surface in the Sheriff's Department where the story was shot.

Zinke for Sheriff campaign literature is seen in the ABC story, presumably on a surface in the Sheriff’s Department where the story was shot.

Zinke is seen interrupting two employees for the benefit of the camera.

Andy Zinke looks over the shoulder of an employee he supervises on the ABC broadcast.

Andy Zinke looks over the shoulder of an employee he supervises on the ABC broadcast.

Andy Zinke interrupts an employee's work for the ABC camera.

Andy Zinke interrupts an employee’s work for the ABC camera.

Next the story touched upon the “feud” between McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren and State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi.

Turning to campaign opponent Bill Prim, ABC interviews him in his home.

Bill Prim is interviewed in his Cary living room for his candidate profile.

Bill Prim is interviewed in his Cary living room for his candidate profile.

Having set the stage, let me state the telling question asked by Ethics Commission Chairman Thomas Spencer:

“Does the involvement in that video amount to campaigning for him?”

That was the key question to Spencer concerning whether the complaint should be sent to the McHenry County State’s Attorney “for further review.”

During the hearing Andy Zinke didn't want his photo taken.  He is sitting next to his attorney Rebecca Lee.  In the back row is County Administrator Peter Austin.

During the hearing Andy Zinke didn’t want his photo taken. He is sitting next to his attorney Rebecca Lee. In the back row is County Administrator Peter Austin.

Right before the vote, Ethics Commission member Scott Hartman said,

“I struggle with the presence of the campaign literature and whether its presence represents prohibited political activity.”

Chairman Spencer then moved that the complain be considered “sufficient.”

Hartman seconded the motion.

Chairman Spencer explained that “a yes vote is a finding that the complaint is sufficient.” He further explained that the motion requited three affirmative votes.

Melissa Hernandez listens to Scott Hartman make a point.

Melissa Hernandez listens to Scott Hartman make a point.

(Two commission members–Cherie Ricket and John White failed to attend the meeting.)

Thomas Spencer

Thomas Spencer

Melissa Hernandez and Hartmen voted “Yes.”

Chairman Spencer voted “No.”

So, the motion failed.

The complaint was brought by former Deputy Sheriff Zane Seipler.

Introductory remarks, he noted the “staunch political allies of Mr. Zinke in the audience” and hoped that they would not exert undue influence on Commission members.

Among those in the audience were Sheriff Keith Nygren and County Board Chairwoman Tina Hill.

“The political climate of McHenry County is changing,” Seipler said.  “They may be influential, but I expect the Commission to do the right thing.”

Rebecca Lee presents Andy Zinke's defense to the ethics complaint filed by Zane Seipler (front row left).  In the back row is Sheriff Keith Nygren.  In the front row is Deputy Sheriff Bob Schlenkert.

Rebecca Lee presents Andy Zinke’s defense to the ethics complaint filed by Zane Seipler (front row left). In the back row is Sheriff Keith Nygren. Next to Seipler in the front row is Deputy Sheriff Bob Schlenkert.

Attorney Rebecca Lee represented Zinke.

She pointed out that Zinke “routinely conducts comments with the media..during compensated time, [but] he was not on the clock for this interview, so the “County wasn’t deprived of anything.”

Concerning the Harvard photo, she said that the complaint “doesn’t allege compensation at the time.”

She asked the Commission to “consider [the complaint's] source and to deny it as “meritless.”

McHenry County Board Chairwoman was seating in the front row of the audience and, after some discussion of the attempt to find a replacement for Herandez and the fact that one applicant already serves in another appointive position, Hill concluded that the County Board “probably should re-open the application process.”

= = = = =
On the trip back to Crystal Lake I reflected on the conclusion by Chairman Thomas Spencer, an attorney-at-law allowed to practice for five and a half years, that Andy Zinke’s appearance in a TV  news story on the Sheriff’s race in McHenry County could not be construed to be “campaigning.”

What a stunning disconnect from reality!

Didn’t he see what was written under the name of Andrew Zinke?

“(R) CANDIDATE MCHENRY COUNTY SHERIFF”

“Candidates” are involved in campaigning.

Either Spencer is hopelessly naive or something else was going on.

Brian Colgan Bests Mark Stern for 6th Congressional District State Central Committeeman in McHenry County

Monday Brian Colgan spoke to Algonquin Township Precinct Committeeman and most voted for him two days later.

Monday Brian Colgan spoke to Algonquin Township Precinct Committeeman and most voted for him two days later.

Here are the McHenry County results for 6th Congressional District State Central Committeeman:

  • Brian Colgan – 3,304
  • Mark Stern – 963

None of the other three candidates received any votes in McHenry County.

Colgan spoke the the Algonquin Township Republican Precinct Committeemen on Monday night.

 

Bond Beats Wheeler and Cook For 14th Congressional District State Central Committeeman

State Rep. Barb Wheeler and County Board candidate and Republican Party Treasurer Chuck Wheeler chat before the votes were announced.

State Rep. Barb Wheeler and County Board candidate and Republican Party Treasurer Chuck Wheeler chat before the votes were announced.

Garrett Hill, who was working on State Rep. Barbara Wheeler’s campaign for State Central Committeeman in the 14th District reports the following as final results:

  • Stan Bond – 20,324.
  • Barbara Wheeler – 16,723
  • Bob Cook – 7.706

In McHenry County, the totals were

  • Wheeler – 8,348
  • Cook 5,806
  • Bond – 108

Sandra Salgado Heads New McHenry County Republican Party Leadership Team

Temporary Chairman Tom Zanck swears in Sandra Salgado as new Chairman of the McHenry County GOP Central Committee/

Temporary Chairman Tom Zanck swears in Sandra Salgado as new Chairman of the McHenry County GOP Central Committee/

The vote was 12,153 to 8,703 in the contest between McHenry County Board member Sandra Salgado and Mark Daniel, Vice Chairman of the Republican Central Committee and Chairman of Nunda Township’s Central Committee.

A victory margin of 3,450 votes.

(Each elected GOP Committeeman is allowed to cast the number of Republican votes cast in last month’s primary election.)

After the vote totals were announced, the winners gathered at the front of the room to be sworn into office. From left to right are Secretary Diane Evertsen, Vice Chairman Andrew Gasser, Chairman Sandra Salgado and Treasurer Chuck Wheeler.

After the vote totals were announced, the winners gathered at the front of the room to be sworn into office.
From left to right are Secretary Diane Evertsen, Vice Chairman Andrew Gasser, Chairman Sandra Salgado and Treasurer Chuck Wheeler.

This is the first time in over fifty years that an outsider has captured control of the local Republican Party.

Andrew Gasser was the numbers guy for the winning coalition.  He was predicting victory prior to the announcement of the vote.

Andrew Gasser was the numbers guy for the winning coalition. He was predicting victory prior to the announcement of the vote.

She will succeed State Rep. Mike Tryon, who decided not to run again and endorsed Daniel.

Salgado’s coalition was largely behind Bill Prim for Sheriff in his race against Andy Zinke.

State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi, not a Precinct Committeeman, was at the event, as was Prim.

The vote was presauged by Monday’s Algonquin Township Republican Central Committee results when the only roll call resulted in first-time Precinct Committeeman Chris Yaeger bested long-time Committeeman and Vice Chairman Tom McDermott by almost a 2-1 margin (a 1,329 vote margin).

The room at d'Andrea's was packed.  On the front row were the Establishment candidates, Carolyn Schofield, John Jung, Glenda Miller and Mark Daniel.

The room at d’Andrea’s was packed. On the front row were the Establishment candidates, Carolyn Schofield, John Jung, Glenda Miller and Mark Daniel.

There was a three-way race for Vice Chairman.  The results follow:

  • Andrew Gasser – 11,392
  • John Jung – 6,958
  • Mike Shorten – 2,104
Incoming Chairman Sandra Salgado talks to outgoing Chairman Mike Tryon before the convention.

Incoming Chairman Sandra Salgado talked to outgoing Chairman Mike Tryon before the convention.

The Treasurer’s race was between newly-nominate District 4 County Board candidate Chuck Wheeler the party’s nominee for County Treasurer, Glenda Miller.

Wheeler won by a vote of 10,588 to 9,866.

For Secretary, County Board members Diane Evertsen and Carolyn Schofield faced off.

Evertsen got 12,184, while Schofield received 8,270.

Also decided were GOP officers for Nunda and McHenry Townships.

Newly-elected McHenry Township GOP Committeeman talked with Sandra Salgado before the count was announced.

Newly-elected McHenry Township GOP Committeeman talked with Sandra Salgado before the count was announced.

In McHenry Township, the new officers are

  • Steve Rooney, Chairman
  • Steven Robert Verr, Vice Chairman
  • Erik Sivertsen, Treasurer
  • Sue Draffkorn

The victory margins were about 2-1.

The new Nunda Township officers are

  • Mike Shorten, Chairman
  • Lee Jennings, Vice Chairman
  • Kate Williams, Treasurer
  • Cherie Haselgruber, Secretary
Grafton Township GOP Committeemen Marty Waitzman, Tom Poznanski, Paul Serwaka and Matt McNamara conversed during the meeting.  Poznanski desires to continue as Township Chairman.  Serwaka also wants the position.

Grafton Township GOP Committeemen Marty Waitzman, Tom Poznanski, Paul Serwatka and Matt McNamara conversed during the meeting. Poznanski desires to continue as Township Chairman. Serwatka also wants the position.

Grafton Township did not select officers.

Neither did what has been called the “Under Ten.”  Currently not sanctioned in the Central Committee’s by-laws, the smaller townships–Alden, Burton, Chemung, Coral, Dunham, Greenwood, Hartland, Hebron, Marengo, Richmond and Seneca–have informally organized during the last two years.

A view of the Convention from the northwest side of the room.

A view of the Convention from the northwest side of the room.

In Dorr Township, John Jung was selected Chairman and Tina Hill Vice Chairwoman.

Cook County Board of (Tax) Appeals Crooks Sentenced

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

TWO FORMER COOK COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW ANALYSTS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR ACCEPTING A BRIBE TO ARRANGE PROPERTY TAX REDUCTIONS

CHICAGO ― Two former analysts for the Cook County Board of Review were sentenced today for accepting $1,500 to facilitate reducing by more than $10,000 the property taxes on three residential properties.

THOMAS HAWKINS was sentenced to 24 months in prison and JOHN RACASI was sentenced to 18 months in prison after they were convicted of federal conspiracy, bribery, and fraud charges.

They were captured scheming with others to facilitate reducing property tax assessments in exchange for bribes in undercover recordings that were played at their week-long trial last October in U.S. District Court.

Hawkins, 50, and Racasi, 53, half-brothers and both of Chicago, were analysts on the staff of one of the three Board of Review commissioners in September 2008, when they accepted the $1,500 bribe payment.

Each of the three commissioners has analysts who handle residential property tax appeals and at least two of the three commissioners’ analysts must agree in order to reduce the Cook County Assessor’s property tax assessments.

“Offenses like [these], betray the citizens who pay property taxes in Cook County and who expect the process in place for assessing property values and appealing those property tax assessments to operate fairly and legitimately,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret J. Schneider and Michael T. Donovan, argued at sentencing.

According to the evidence at trial, Ali Haleem, a former Chicago police officer who began cooperating with the FBI in July 2008 and is awaiting sentencing on other federal charges, was introduced to Hawkins, who, in turn, introduced him to Racasi.

Haleem recorded numerous meetings and telephone conversations with both defendants in which they discussed facilitating property tax assessment reductions in exchange for bribes.

In September 2008, Haleem, Hawkins and Racasi discussed the specifics of the bribe Haleem would pay for reducing tax assessments on properties in Chicago, Burbank, and Tinley Park. On Sept. 11, 2008, Hawkins and Racasi agreed to reduce the assessed values on properties Haleem owned in Chicago and Burbank, as well as a property in Tinley Park owned by another individual, for three years beginning with the 2008 tax year.

Hawkins and Racasi provided Haleem with analysis sheets for these properties, which could be used to calculate the tax savings that a property owner would realize over the three-year period. In return for the $1,500 bribe, Hawkins and Racasi promised Haleem a total tax savings for the three properties over the three-year period of at least approximately $10,000.

Zachary Fardon

Zachary Fardon

The payment was made on Sept. 17, 2008, when Haleem met with Hawkins and Racasi and handed the money to Racasi. Hawkins assured Haleem that Racasi would later provide Hawkins with his share of the money.

Hawkins and Racasi also facilitated a reduction in property tax assessments on 11 condominium units in Chicago, expecting to receive bribe payments that Haleem would collect from the property owners once the reductions were verified.

The sentences were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI?s Chicago City Public Corruption Task Force led the investigation with assistance from the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, which is a task force member.