Comparing This Spring’s Tax Takes with Last Year’s

The night before last I put together the numbers from the 2015 tax bills for pretty much each tax district in McHenry County with those for 2016.

Because the tax year is one year behind the year in which taxes are collected, what you see below compares taxes collected last year with those which will be collected this year.

If you would like to peruse the source documents, you can find 2015’a here and 2016’s here.  If you find any mistakes please let me know so I can correct them.

Tax District 2015 Extension 2016 Extension % Change
McHenry County $76,289,016.00 $79,424,610.97 4.11%
McHenry County Conservation District $19,583,206.46 $19,511,341.32 -0.37%
Elgin Community College $4,283,998.62 $4,351,239.69 1.57% McH Co only
McHenry County College $26,861,784.02 $26,774,324.69 -0.33%
Grade School Districts
Richmond-Spring Grove Grade Sch Dist 2 $12,531,532.35 $12,531,543.44 0.00%
Fox River Grove Grade School Dist 3 $5,725,348.87 $5,876,302.74 2.64%
McHenry Grade School Dist 15 $51,869,079.30 $53,272,645.86 2.71%
Riley Grade School Dist 18 $3,908,792.30 $4,015,842.24 2.74%
Cary Grade School Dist 26 $23,202,091.91 $23,063,008.87 -0.60%
Wonder Lake Grade School Dist 36 $3,723,494.96 $3,245,773.88 -12.83%
Prairie Grove Grade School Dist 46 $10,599,998.44 $10,615,011.94 0.14%
Crystal Lake Grade School Dist 47 $73,706,965.92 $74,958,784.60 1.70%
Marengo Grade School District 165 $7,032,802.44 $7,102,381.81 0.99%
High School Districts
Marengo High School Dist 154 $10,334,461.81 $10,445,513.38 1.07%
Crystal Lake High School Dist 155 $72,207,718.78 $72,260,935.22 0.07%
McHenry High School Dist 156 $26,680,079.89 $26,990,105.15 1.16%
Richmond-Burton High Sch Dist 157 $11,570,898.22 $11,570,913.82 0.00%
Unit School Districts
Johnsburg Unit School Dist 12 $22,941,186.58 $22,908,159.51 -0.14%
Alden-Hebron Unit School Dist 19 $4,334,380.49 $4,388,566.85 1.25%
Harvard Unit School Dist 50 $15,010,438.10 $15,405,994.46 2.64%
Wauconda Unit School Dist 118 49,948,610 6,723,377 -86.54% McH Co only
Huntley Unit School Dist 158 $54,292,472.26 $56,878,251.59 4.76% McH Co only
Woodstock Unit School Dist 200 $59,100,507.28 $57,689,156.13 -2.39%
Barrington Unit School Dist 220 $5,400,548.73 $5,732,388.26 6.14% McH Co only
Carpentersville Unit Sch Dist 300 $54,939,784.00 $5,732,388.26 -89.57% McH Co only
Fire Protection Districts
Alg-LITH FPD $7,821,097.10 $8,702,041.62 11.26%
Barrington Country FPD $362,527.82 $413,460.46 14.05% McH Co only
Cary FPD $3,813,386.70 $3,979,179.26 4.35%
CL Rural FPD $1,579,676.97 $1,634,846.02 3.49%
FRG FPD $1,278,219.78 $1,299,896.64 1.70%
Harvard FPD $1,040,959.44 $1,040,961.50 0.00%
Hebron-Alden-Grnwd FPD $432,168.61 $436,990.97 1.12%
Huntley FPD $8,466,886.01 $8,467,066.81 0.00%
Marengo FPD $1,031,421.37 $1,086,158.56 5.31%
Marengo Rescue Squad $625,174.98 $650,181.56 4.00%
McHenry Twp FPD $7,025,008.53 $7,306,019.55 4.00%
Nunda Rural FPD $953,999.89 $965,803.29 1.24%
Richmond FPD $677,903.06 $710,501.91 4.81%
Spring Grove FPD $1,501,000.86 $1,519,005.30 1.20%
Union FPD $189,662.67 $196,918.23 3.83%
Wauconda FPD $837,777.75 $837,757.28 0.00% McH Co only
Woodstock FPD $6,000,008.84 $6,145,008.84 2.42%
Wonder Lake FPD $949,369.99 $958,006.82 0.91%
Alden Town $115,698.88 $115,698.40 0.00%
Alden Road $172,564.32 $175,431.07 1.66%
Algonquin Town $1,800,417.20 $1,640,025.38 -8.91%
Algonquin Road $4,049,030.71 $3,926,154.18 -3.03%
Bruton Town $155,643.04 $155,643.14 0.00%
Burton Road $217,577.02 $221,928.22 2.00%
Chemung Town $190,423.88 $192,658.64 1.17%
Chemung Road $532,537.40 $546,521.46 2.63%
Coral Town $110,596.22 $88,477.88 -20.00%
Coral Road $303,500.67 $303,501.07 0.00%
Dorr Town $669,629.73 $669,002.09 -0.09%
Dorr Road $1,265,129.57 $1,265,004.65 -0.01%
Dunham Town $144,852.28 $145,905.88 0.73%
Dunham Road $320,078.03 $316,596.06 -1.09%
Grafton Town $1,158,962.01 $1,048,181.99 -9.56%
Grafton Road $834,728.44 $854,460.57 2.36%
Greenwood Town $458,082.58 $458,085.12 0.00%
Greenwood Road $1,057,179.61 $1,057,184.92 0.00%
Hartland Town $167,432.88 $166,948.33 -0.29%
Hartland Road $246,927.46 $251,905.85 2.02%
Hebron Town $133,606.22 $140,376.56 5.07%
Hebron Road $228,001.53 $231,385.10 1.48%
Marengo Town $292,833.69 $294,884.91 0.70%
Marengo Road $469,481.37 $492,950.48 5.00%
McHenry Town $1,876,442.91 $1,688,801.23 -10.00%
McHenry Road $3,328,120.90 $3,000,002.27 -9.86%
Nunda Town $1,144,307.00 $984,618.53 -13.96%
Nunda Road $3,282,574.59 $3,165,569.72 -3.56%
Richmond Town $277,003.27 $277,000.86 0.00%
Richmond Road $516,782.51 $523,227.62 1.25%
Riley Town $185,952.06 $192,278.00 3.40%
Riley Road $255,509.81 $257,660.44 0.84%
Seneca Town $152,000.49 $150,000.70 -1.32%
Seneca Road $286,726.65 $289,603.29 1.00%
Cities and Villages
Algonquin $4,176,673.36 $4,064,311.90 -2.69% McH Co only
Barrington Hills $1,619,568.36 $1,488,580.71 -8.09% McH Co only
Bull Valley $1,488,580.71 $383,774.30 -74.22%
Cary $2,510,591.92 $2,510,606.12 0.00%
Crystal Lake $3,730,642.73 $3,738,813.77 0.22%
Crystal Lake Fire $8,149,034.37 $8,140,888.73 -0.10%
Fox River Grove $828,084.48 $846,006.93 2.16% McH Co only
Fox Lake $158,701.60 $161,981.67 2.07% McH Co only
Fox Lake Fire $70,085.48 $0 -100.00% McH Co only
Greenwood $0 $0 #DIV/0!
Harvard $2,921,876.86 $2,527,828.29 -13.49%
Hebron $178,836.64 $186,884.90 4.50%
Holiday Hills $31,350.03 $31,350.07 0.00%
Huntley $2,545,061.01 $2,901,841.67 14.02% McH Co only
Island Lake $718,223.61 $668,146.81 -6.97% McH Co only
Johnsburg $859,171.62 $859,176.20 0.00%
Lake in the Hills $5,481,691.49 $5,481,687.66 0.00%
Lakemoor $232,691.35 $246,736.81 6.04%
Lakewood $1,723,235.51 $1,762,795.60 2.30%
Marengo $1,560,035.57 $1,572,934.80 0.83%
McCullum Lake $132,321.14 $130,806.16 -1.14%
McHenry $4,761,650.14 $4,618,817.04 -3.00%
Oakwood Hills $289,000.96 $293,501.10 1.56%
Port Barrington $88,934.30 $89,498.79 0.63% McH Co only
Prairie Grove $360,002.37 $360,002.09 0.00%
Richmond $468,685.77 $475,008.81 1.35%
Ringwood $80,999.88 $83,000.20 2.47%
Spring Grove $669,532.66 $671,554.20 0.30%
Trout Valley $0 $0 #DIV/0!
Union $88,626.20 $89,353.13 0.82%
Wonder Lake $408,999.44 $413,001.29 0.98%
Woodstock $9,183,026.26 $8,315,361.49 -9.45%
Park Districts
Barrington Hills $60,040.34 $67,328.14 12.14% McH Co only
Cary $4,587,148.04 $4,643,079.00 1.22%
Crystal Lake $7,259,385.44 $7,361,418.19 1.41%
Huntley $3,620,920.02 $2,774,958.98 -23.36% McH Co only
Marengo $492,062.07 $498,477.27 1.30%
Library Districts
Algonquin $6,049,462.37 $6,354,892.50 5.05%
Barrington $365,556.66 $365,556.66 0.00% McH Co only
Cary $1,937,165.49 $1,975,266.33 1.97%
Crystal Lake $4,494,519.81 $4,494,534.75 0.00%
Fox River Grove $544,519.31 $557,891.49 2.46%
Huntley $2,172,134.89 $2,238,467.61 3.05%
Johnsburg $619,001.51 $625,001.28 0.97%
Marengo-Union $650,477.55 $642,253.28 -1.26%
McHenry $3,180,652.28 $3,180,653.29 0.00%
River East $223,733.84 $234,913.78 5.00%
Nippersink $646,404.31 $647,994.86 0.25%
Woodstock Rural $416,200.69 $416,501.80 0.07%
Wauconda $467,474.44 $466,476.41 -0.21% McH Co only
Sanitary Districts
Northern Maraine $86,976.57 $85,138.20 -2.11% McH Co only
LITH $752,008.55 $751,309.47 -0.09%


Skillicorn Pushes for Balanced Budget

A press release from State Rep. Alan Skillicorn:

Skillicorn Says Balanced Budget Needed to Provide Education Certainty

CRYSTAL LAKE – Despite K-12 education funding being spared much of the turmoil caused by the lack of full-year, balanced state budget, many school districts have been feeling the crunch due to state mandated categorical payments not being paid.

These categorical payments, which help fund things like transportation and special education, have yet to be paid to school districts by the Comptroller because of the state’s ever growing backlog of bills.

State Representative Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) says this is one more reason it essential to stop playing games with another stopgap in Springfield and pass a comprehensive, full-year balanced budget as soon as possible.

“Illinois has been without a complete budget for nearly two years now, and gone even longer without a balanced budget that actually matches spending to projected revenues,” said Skillicorn.

“Every day this continues, our schools face growing uncertainty as their backlog of unpaid state vouchers grow. This is unacceptable and ultimately leads to more pressure being placed on local taxpayers.”

School districts across the state, including those in Skillicorn’s district, have yet to receive millions of dollars in state mandated categorical payments.

The Comptroller has not made the payments since the state does not have enough money to do so. Comptroller Mendoza’s office has said it plans to make the first of four categorical payments by the end of April, some seven months late.

School districts would typically have received three payments by April, but since the state’s spending has outpaced revenues by so much, and the state is still without an appropriation for a full-year budget, none have been made yet.

“K-12 education, higher education and social services need urgent, real solutions, not another stopgap that keeps growing Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills. Continuing to spend more money than the state takes in will just grow the problem more in the long run.” said Skillicorn.

“I urge the Speaker to work with both Republicans and Democrats to pass a comprehensive balanced budget immediately.”

Huntley and Harvard School Problems

From the Huntley Police Department:

April 3, 2017 A 15 year old boy from Huntley, IL was charged with battery stemming from an incident at Huntley High School. The boy was released to his mother and will attend peer jury.

April 7, 2017 A 15 year old boy from Huntley, IL was charged with possession of a controlled substance relating to an incident that occurred at Huntley High School. The boy was released to his mother and will be petitioned into McHenry County juvenile court.

Huntley crime issue4d April 19, 2017.

Find Huntley crime map details here.

From the Harvard Police Department:


On 04-17-2017 two Harvard Residents (m/13 yoa and m/14 yoa) were issued fighting citations after they were observed by school administration fighting in the hallway of the Harvard Junior High. Both students were released to parents.

Comparing What Different Types of Tax Districts Did To Us This Year – Corrected Version

Comparing tax takes from last year to what will be requested this year, one finds the following.

[Last night I entered a couple of wrong numbers.]

New Principal Named for Cary-Grove High School

A press release from Crystal Lake High School District 155:

D155 Board Approves New Cary-Grove Principal

Crystal Lake – The D155 Board of Education approved Neil Lesinski as the new principal at Cary-Grove High School, effective July 1.

After serving as principal for 10 years, Jay Sargeant has decided to return to the classroom where he began his career.

Neil Lesinski has served as the district’s director of curriculum and assessment collaborating with building leaders and committees of teachers to continue to advance curriculum and revise the district’s assessment practices since July 2016.

Neil also coordinates efforts with feeder school districts to align standards and has supported the implementation of the State Seal of Biliteracy certification program in D155.

Prior to working in D155, Neil was department chair of the English department at Lakes Community High School, leading a team that advanced reading and writing instruction across disciplines.

He also served as the career technical education division chair in D117, overseeing a majority of the electives and working with a team in re-designing curriculum around 21st century skills, including the addition of a mobile apps course.

Neil Lesinsk

“I look forward to building relationships and becoming a part of the Cary-Grove family and working to carry on the incredible tradition of providing an excellent educational experience for students while supporting them in every way we can to be successful in life,” said Lesinski.

Neil received his bachelors in English education from Western Illinois University and earned his Type 75, a masters in school leadership, from Concordia University. He is currently working on his doctorate in educational leadership from Aurora University.

“I am confident through Neil’s leadership Cary-Grove High School will continue to be a nationally recognized high school. Neil is a student-centered instructional leader who is committed to supporting the positive school culture that exists at Cary-Grove,” said Dr. Johnnie Thomas, superintendent.

“We involved people at all levels of the organization, and we had 55 well-qualified candidates apply for the open principal positions.”

Neil Lesinski will begin his role as principal on July 1. He will work with Jay Sargeant and the rest of our administrative teams to ensure a smooth transition. The district is working to plan a meet and greet event for parents and students, and will share that information soon.

Josh Nobilio Named South High School Principal

A press release from Crystal Lake High School District 155:

D155 Board Approves New Crystal Lake South Principal

Crystal Lake – The D155 Board of Education approved Josh Nobilio as the new principal at Crystal Lake South High School, effective July 1.

Scott Shepard was appointed as the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services for the 2017-18 school year.

Josh Nobilio has served as Crystal Lake South High School’s student services coordinator for the past six years.

He has collaborated with a team to create and implement student supports to increase student achievement at South.

Josh has co-facilitated a parent advisory committee to re-design student services across D155 and helped Crystal Lake South achieve national RAMP certification.

In February, Josh was a recipient of the College Board’s Guidance and Admissions Assembly Award.

He has also served D155 as a social worker for three years and a special education teacher for three years.

Josh Nobilio

“I am part of a great team at Crystal Lake South High School, and I enjoy being part of the gator community.

“I am honored to serve as South’s next principal.

“I look forward to working with students and collaborating with staff to ensure all students succeed and continuing to encouraging an inclusive school culture,” said Nobilio.

He received his bachelors in special education from Illinois State University, and a masters of social work from Loyola University. He completed his Type 75 administrative certificate from Northern Illinois University and earned a Type 75 director of special education certification from Aurora University.

Johnnie Thomas

“Josh’s experience working with staff and students at Crystal Lake South will allow him to continue strong traditions while supporting innovative instruction and develop programs designed to help students pursue their future aspirations,” said Dr. Johnnie Thomas, superintendent. “We had 55 well-qualified candidates apply for the open principal positions, and we involved people at every level of the organization in the interview process.”

Josh Nobilio will begin his role as principal on July 1. He will work with Scott Shepard and the rest of our administrative teams to ensure a smooth transition. The district is working to plan a meet and greet event for parents and students, and will share that information soon.

McHenry County Drug & Mental Health Courts Gain Certification

A press release from the McHenry County Circuit Court:

22nd Judicial Circuit Specialty Courts First to Receive Certification in the State

(Woodstock, IL) Recently the Circuit Court of the 22nd Judicial Circuit was notified by Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts that the McHenry County Drug Court and Mental Health Court was approved for certification, thereby becoming the first operational courts to receive certification in the State of Illinois.

The seal of the 22nd Circuit Court.

In 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted the Problem-Solving Courts (PSC) Standards for all of the Circuit Courts in Illinois.

The purpose of these statewide Standards is to set forth the minimum requirements for the planning, establishment, certification, operation and evaluation of all problem solving courts in Illinois.

These Standards are intended to assure that scarce public resources are used in ways that assure the greatest positive return on the investment.

The Standards are based on evidence-based practices, now well established by a substantial body of research, as well as on promising accepted practices that are correlated with positive, cost effective outcomes and enhanced public safety.

While the Standards are developed for the purpose of ensuring consistent and uniform evidence-based practices in PSC, they also allow local PSC to innovate and tailor their programs to respond to local needs and utilize local resources.

Nicholas Hayes, McHenry County Specialty Courts Probation Office said,

“I have witnessed countless individuals pull themselves out of the despair of drug addiction and untreated mental illness.

“With the assistance of our programs, these individuals seized on an opportunity to make positive life changes, repaired broken family relationships, and reentered the workforce.

“I’m honored to learn that our Specialty Courts have been recognized and are among the first to receive certification in the State of Illinois.”

The 22nd Judicial Circuit’s PSCs are not designed for the incidental user or for someone with slight depression; rather they are designed to work with criminal defendants who are at high risk to commit new offenses and have a high need for treatment services.

Both the Drug Court and Mental Health Court are specifically designed to identify individuals who suffer from addiction or mental illness and commit crimes.

These individuals are then diverted from the traditional criminal justice system and are provided access to residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment and probation services.

McHenry County Board Responsible for Half of Real Estate Tax Hike This Year

Last year, McHenry County taxpayers were billed $823,699,731.68.

This year, real estate taxes total $829,734,565.01

That’s an increase countywide of $6 million or 7/10 of one percent.

$3 million of that increase–half of the total–can be laid at the feet of the Republican County Board–serving from 2014-2016–who refused to kill the Valley Hi Nursing Home tax.

The new McHenry County Board is composed of all Republicans.

Because I think the fourteen Republicans on the County Board who caused this part of the tax hike deserve recognition, I reprint my article about it from mid-November below:

County Board Members Who Wanted to Cut Taxes Lost

Posted on by

Got tired before I had the opportunity to report on the failed effort to keep McHenry County government’s tax take approximately constant.

After passing the levy, which, without other action, will increase county government’s taxes by 4%, an effort was made to abate the $2.74 million taken from the Valley Hi authorization.

In the first budget presented to the Finance Committee, there was $2.75 million for Valley Hi.

Pressure must have been too intense, because the next iteration showed $10,000 for Valley Hi.

While pretty irrelevant with over $40 million sitting in the bank, the levying of even $1 for Valley Hi keeps the tax alive.

A vast majority of County Board members voted to keep the Valley Hi tax.

After the $79.3 million tax levy was passed and the motion to eliminate the $10,000 levy for Valley Hi was defeated, Woodstock member Michael Rein moved to abate the $2.4 million basically taken from Valley Hi taxing authority.

County Clerk Mary McClellan, who determines tax rates, told the Board that a separate abatement resolution would have to be filed by the first week in April for such a levy reduction to be implemented.

Finance Committee Chairman Mike Skala reminded the Board that if the reduction motion passed money would have to be found elsewhere to pay for the capital projects.

It could be either borrowed from the Valley Hi surplus or from bond holders.

Skala stressed the repair and construction needs of County government.

The projects being considered are from an estimate for capital needs for the next five years, while borrowing money would take ten years to repay.

“We’ve already made those decisions,” retiring member Carolyn Schofield, Crystal Lake, said.

“It’s the most cost-effective way of doing it.”

“I’m going to be gone so I’m no going to be blamed for this.

“I want it to be the most cost-effective method.”

“These are things that need to be done,” Harvard’s Larry Smith pointed out.

“We have the opportunity to do [some] of these projects and move ahead without borrowing money.”

Using the $2.74 million to finance part of the capital program would be, in essence, a “pay as you go” approach without the need to pay interest on debt.

Rein called one of the proposed projects–buying the building on Russel Court “a cesspool.”

“We haven’t even decided which projects we’re going to do.”

Ending debate, McHenry’s Chuck Wheeler agreed with Rein, saying his approach was “the most prudent scenario.”

The following nine voted to abate $2.74 million from next year’s tax bills:

  • Yvonne Barnes
  • Chris Christensen
  • Diane Evertsen
  • Andrew Gasser
  • John Hammerand
  • Michael Rein
  • Jeff Thorsen
  • Michael Walkup
  • Chuck Wheeler

The fourteen voting against cutting the amount the previously passed tax levy would allow were

  • Michele Aavang
  • Sue Draffkorn
  • Joe Gottemoller
  • Jim Heisler
  • Tina Hill
  • John Jung
  • Don Kopsell
  • Donna Kurtz
  • Bob Martens
  • Mary McCann
  • Robert Nowak
  • Carolyn Schofield
  • Mike Skala
  • Larry Smith

State’s Attorney Sets Local Government Official Training Session

A press release from the McHenry County State’s Attorney:

McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office to Present Seminar For Elected Officials

Patrick D. Kenneally, McHenry County State’s Attorney, is pleased to announce that his office will be conducting a free seminar on local government transparency, efficiency and ethics for elected officials on April 27, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.

The seminar will take place at the McHenry County Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Conference Rooms A & B, Woodstock, IL 60098.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for networking and refreshments.

While each public body faces different challenges and issues, transparency and a strong ethical foundation are essential to all governmental bodies.

The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office strives to ensure that the citizens of McHenry County find their local officials to be trustworthy and receptive to the needs of the community.

We believe this seminar will be quite informative and useful to elected officials in their service to the public.

All elected officials and members of the public are invited to attend.

Please contact the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office at (815) 334-4159 with any questions or concerns.

Franks Still Sitting on Over Half Million Dollars

About dinner time on deadline day for filing campaign disclosure reports, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks sent in his information to the State Board of Elections.

He reported having $23,619.20 in cash and $500,984.35 in investments.

Franks was not in fundraising mode the first three months of 2017.

He only raised $1,211.37.

$1,000 was from Heartland Solutions Group Inc. of Lake Barrington.

He also reported receiving a $152 refund from Liberty Mutual Group.

The Franks campaign spent $23,508.39:

  • $3,000 – headquarters rent
  • $1,795 – printing
  • $1,316 – telephones
  • $443 – electricity
  • $385 – internet access
  • $250 – retirement part for State Rep. Mike Tryon
  • $218 – garbage removal

Franks also made two political contributions:

  • $1,000 – Mike Madigan’s Democratic Party of Illinois
  • $250 – State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia’s unsuccessful campaign for Mayor of Aurora

Bob Miller Spends Over $33,000 on Road Commissioner Race to Andrew Gasser’s Over $22,000

Although money was spent last year on his effort to gain re-election, during the first three months of this year, Algonquin Township Road Commissioner spent $33,352.54.

He has $33,352.54 left in his campaign fund.

Here is how the money was spent:

  • $16,402 – mailings
  • $6,877 – billboards
  • $3,049 – postage
  • $3,026 – printing
  • $890 – miscellaneous
  • $500 – web site
  • $380 – tickets
  • $357 – wine & food
  • $348 – sign posts
  • $207 – transcript
  • $186 – pens

The Miller campaign fund has $20,339.14 left.

In contrast, Andrew Gasser spent $22,223.58.

The money was spent as follows:

  • $8,793 – printing
  • $4,984 – postage
  • $3,239 – signs
  • $2,400 – radio
  • $1,214 – mailing
  • $651 – computer services
  • $465 – food
  • $241 – miscellaneous
  • $56 – equipment

Gasser has $784 remaining in his campaign fund.

Just using the money spent in the two months before the February 28th election (and more was spent in the final quarter of 2016), the following amounts spent per vote can be calculated:

  • Miller – $12,66 per vote
  • Gasser – $8 per vote.

“No Validity” to Last Week’s Rumors about Violence at South High School

That’s what the Crystal Lake Police Department is reporting Monday morning:

Advisory: A message from Crystal Lake South High School’s Principal regarding the rumors that were circulated last week in an email to parents and students.

Dear Parents and Students,

We are aware of the rumors circulating about a threat of violence at South High School from last week. Administrators, along with our School Resource Officer and the Crystal Lake Police Department took immediate action to ensure the safety of our students and staff last Monday.

The police department conducted several interviews and assured us that there was no validity to these rumors and the appropriate actions were taken.

South High School gator.

Safety is our top priority, and we take all rumor of threats seriously. If any valid threat is made, we will work with the CL Police Department to increase security at our building.

If you have questions or concerns please contact principal Scott Shepard at 815-455-3860 Ext 3210, Joe Cole, Vice Principal at (815) 455-3860 Ext 3213 or our Dean of Students Sean Levitt or Sean Scotty at (815) 455-3860 ext 3211 or 3212.

Thank you,
Scott Shepard, Principal
Crystal Lake South

Roskam Goes after Lois Lerner

A press release from Congressman Peter Roskam

Roskam, Brady Urge DOJ to Review Lois Lerner Case

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam, Chairman of the Ways & Means Tax Policy Subcommittee, and Kevin Brady, Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions today.

They called on the Department of Justice to review evidence that Lois Lerner, the former IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director, broke the law to target Americans for their political beliefs.

Chairman Roskam led the investigation into IRS targeting when he was Chairman of the Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee during the last Congress.

Despite a three-year investigation, clear evidence of criminal misconduct, and a referral to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, the Obama Administration refused to consider the information and bring justice to the taxpayers harmed by Ms. Lerner’s actions.

Peter Roskam

In the letter to AG Session, Chairmen Roskam and Brady wrote:

“Taxpayers deserve to know that the DOJ’s previous evaluation was not tainted by politics … We respectfully request the Department of Justice to take a fresh look at the evidence presented in the attached referral in order to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.”

Explaining the Committee’s findings and initial referral for criminal prosecution, the Chairmen added:

“The Committee found that Ms. Lerner used her position to improperly influence IRS action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law.  The Committee also found she impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Finally, Lerner risked exposing, and may actually have disclosed, confidential taxpayer information, in apparent violation of Internal Revenue Code section 6103 by using her personal email to conduct official business.”

CLICK HERE to read the Full text of the referral to former Attorney General Eric Holder following the Committee’s three-year investigation can be read here.

CLICK HERE to read a timeline of Ms. Lerner’s misconduct at the IRS.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the letter to Attorney General Sessions requesting the Department of Justice to review the evidence of Ms. Lerner’s misconduct.

Full Text of the Letter to AG Sessions:

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

On April 9, 2014, the House Committee on Ways and Means voted to send a letter to the Department of Justice referring former IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois G. Lerner for criminal prosecution.  As indicated in the attached letter, the Committee’s nearly three-year investigation uncovered evidence of willful misconduct on the part of Ms. Lerner.  Despite this fact, and for what many believe were purely partisan reasons, the prior Administration refused to review Ms. Lerner’s misconduct.  For the reasons described below, I respectfully request the Department of Justice to take a fresh look at the evidence presented in the attached referral in order to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.

In particular, the Committee found that Ms. Lerner used her position to improperly influence IRS action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law.  The Committee also found she impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Finally, Lerner risked exposing, and may actually have disclosed, confidential taxpayer information, in apparent violation of Internal Revenue Code section 6103 by using her personal email to conduct official business.

As you know, your predecessor brought no charges against Ms. Lerner or any other IRS employees involved in the improper targeting of organizations applying for tax-exempt status.

Disturbingly, in February 2014, while the investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) was ongoing, President Obama stated there was “not a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS, preempting a fair investigation in which he had political equities.  It is clear that when the DOJ announced in October 2015 that it would not bring charges against Lois Lerner, the agency was following President Obama’s signal on how he wanted the investigation to be handled.

Taxpayers deserve to know that the DOJ’s previous evaluation was not tainted by politics.  Again, I respectfully request that the Department of Justice to take a fresh look at the evidence presented in the attached referral in order to assure the American people that DOJ’s prior investigation was handled fairly and to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.


Kevin Brady
Committee on Ways and Means

Peter Roskam
Subcommittee on Tax Policy

Chuck Wheeler Sets Fundraiser

Chuck Wheeler

McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler is planning a $60 per person fundraiser for May 5th from 5-7 at Stucky’s Bar & Grill near Angelo’s (next to the Raymond Bowl).

The address is 4000 N. Johnsburg Road, in Johnsburg.

The details are below:

Chuck Wheeler’s fundraising invitation.

Republican Precinct Committeemen, plus a guest, will get in for $30.

Attorney General Rules McHenry County Blog “News Media” for Purposes of Freedom of Information Requests

The Public Access Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office has ruled that McHenry County Blog is to be considered “media” under the Freedom of Information Act.

McHenry County Blog is now the only blog in Illinois certified as a “news medium” by the Illinois Attorney General.

Three similar appeals have previously failed.

In doing so, it ruled that McHenry County had violated the Freedom of Information Act.

“… the Public Access Bureau concludes that the County of McHenry (County) improperly designated Mr. Cal Skinner as a recurrent requester,” said the opinion (2017 PAC 46249).

McHenry County Blog appealed.he question arose because McHenry County’s Freedom of Information Officer–after Democrat Jack Franks took office as McHenry County Board Chairmandesignated McHenry County Blog as “a recurrent requester.”

McHenry County Blog appealed.

Jack Franks

In the response to my request for texts between Franks and patronage employee “Communications Specialist” Oliver Serafini (which, when an answer was finally provided were said to be non-existent), the County contended McHenry County was a “recurrent requester,” as defined in the FOIA as follows:

A “recurrent requester” is defined in Section 2(g) of the Act as a person that, in the 12 months immediately preceding the request, has submitted to the same public body

(i) a minimum of 50 requests for records,

(ii) a minimum of 15 requests for records within a 30-day period, or

(iii) a minimum of 7 requests for records within a 7-day period.

The Attorney General “requested that [McHenry County] provide a detailed explanation of the legal and factual bases for designating Mr. Skinner as a ‘recurrent requester.'”

The County replied, citing three non-binding opinions.

The opinion notes the law says members of the media cannot be designated as “recurrent requesters”:

For purposes of this definition, requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered in calculating the number of requests made in the time periods in this definition when the principal purpose of the requests is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, ( ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or ( iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education. (Emphasis added.)

McHenry County Blog submitted legal arguments and an affidavit relating to the history and operation of McHenry County Blog.

McHenry County argued,

McHenry County has no evidence that Mr. Skinner * * * adheres to recognized journalistic standards.

While the posts may include the personal commentary or editorial of the blog’ s publisher, this opinion -based content is not analogous to the reporting with editorial oversight and fact checking that hallmark traditional news sources.

Therefore, Mr. Skinner’s website does not resemble a newspaper,” “periodical,”or ” news service” in an electronic form and does not fall within the plain definition of “news media” in section 2( f) of FOIA.

Parts of the affidavit which rebutted county government’s assertion are then cited in the opinion, followed by

This office has also independently reviewed the McHenry County Blog website during the pendency of this Request for Review.

The McHenry County Blog is regularly updated with posts on governmental issues in McHenry County and elsewhere.

The site often includes original content consisting of Mr. Skinner’ s opinion and commentary on these issues.

The opinion concludes,

Mr. Skinner has furnished evidence that the McHenry County Blog functions much like a member of the traditional news media in terms of

  • its production of original content,
  • its range of reporting on issues of public interest,
  • its established presence on its own and in the traditional media, and
  • the size and diversity of its readership. [format changed]

Judging from the totality of the circumstances, this office concludes that the McHenry County Blog is a newspaper or periodical issued at regular intervals in “electronic format” and, therefore, a member of the ” news media” as defined by section 2( f) of FOIA.

Accordingly, based on the available evidence, the County violated FOIA by improperly designating Mr. Skinner as a “recurrent requester” under section 2( g) of FOIA.

In accordance with the conclusions of this letter, this office requests that the County treat Mr. Skinner’s FOIA request as being from “news media.”

Two State Legislators Didn’t File 2014 Tax Returns

David McSweeney

State Rep. David McSweeney seems to be one of the legislators that reporters go for a pithy comment now that Jack Franks has stepped back from the larger arena.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting on 312 state employees who have not yet filed income tax returns for 2014.

That means the returns are two years past due.

Two are current state legislators.

Last summer the Illinois Revenue Department sent warnings.

“It’s outrageous particularly given that ‘a lot of Democrats and Republicans are talking about raising taxes,'” commented SKcSweeney.

Teaching Young People about Easter

Found this outside of the door of the First United Methodist Church yeterday.

In front of the sanctuary door of First Church in Crystal Lake is product of a pre-school class that meets at the Methodist Chruch.

It’s a little flower pot on its side in front of three crosses.

Next to the pot is a rock symbolizing the empty tomb from which Jesus arose.

Rauner Would Veto Taxpayer Abortion Bill, If Passed

Bruce Rauner and David McSweeney at Irene Napier’s Pro-Life Pig Roast in 2013.  All four GOP candidates for Governor courted voters at the event.  Andrew Gasser can be seen in the backgraound

A bill opposed by Pro-Lifers will be vetoed, if passed, according to a member of Governor Bruce Rauner’s staff.

Illinois Review got an email from Allie Bovis stating,

“Governor Rauner does not support HB40 and will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.”

House Bill 40 is the legislation in question.

The bill’s synopsis follows:

Amends the State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971.

Removes a provision prohibiting the non-contributory portion of a program of health-benefits from including the expenses of obtaining an abortion.

Amends the Illinois Public Aid Code.

Removes a provision excluding abortions or induced miscarriages or premature births from the list of services provided under the State’s medical assistance program.

Removes language providing for the adoption of rules to prohibit a physician from providing medical assistance to anyone eligible for medical assistance benefits if the physician has been found guilty of willfully and wantonly performing an abortion procedure upon a woman who was not pregnant at the time of the procedure.

Removes other provisions concerning abortion restrictions.

Amends the Problem Pregnancy Health Services and Care Act.

Removes language prohibiting the Department of Human Services from making grants to nonprofit agencies and organizations that use such grants to refer or counsel for, or perform, abortions.

Amends the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. Provides that it is the intention of the General Assembly to reasonably regulate abortion in conformance with the legal standards set forth in the decisions of the United States Supreme Court of January 22, 1973.

Removes language concerning the General Assembly’s declaration that the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child’s right to life.

Makes other changes.

State Representative David McSweeney prompted the Governor’s decision, according to Illinois Review.

Serwatka Reflects on Lakewood Victory

It’s taken some time for Lakewood Village President-Elect Paul Serwatka to put his thoughts together, but here they are:

The sign for the Lakewood Tax-Fighter Party.

My apologies for the belated report. We buried my nephew, Jacob, on election day which has definitely taken some wind out of my sails, and I went through the entire ordeal with a flu/fever and doing so has taken it’s toll on my health as well. I am still not fully recovered.

I’m sure, by now, everyone is well aware that Lakewood residents were quite successful in PHASE II of our effort – the April 4th election of The entire “Lakewood Tax-Fighter & Better Government Team”.

So successful, in fact, that we once again, broke at least one historical record, again setting what most would call “a mandate” on a few critical issues in Lakewood Government.

Where we began…

In the 2015 election, I ran as a write-in candidate to be our village trustee, promising 3 things:

1. I promised to “fight”, to put an end to more than a decade of consecutive, annual Lakewood property tax hikes.

2. I promised to “fight” to put an end to the $66 Million Dollar TIF District, as well as the Sportsplex.

3. I promised to bring about an entirely new level of truth, transparency and accountability within our village board.

As I continued in my campaign to become our trustee, in 2015, I spoke with many hundreds of residents and, again and again, I was told and asked the same thing:

“You’ll be but 1 against 6 on the village board. You will lose every vote. How will you stop or change anything?”

And, again and again, I replied: “Voting right” is just the beginning of achieving better government”… I will fight! Not just “vote right,” but fight!”

I promised I would continue to call out, and shed light on, wasteful spending and wrongdoing.

I pledged to “guilt fellow board members into doing “the right thing”… to “shame them into doing the right thing” if need be… and if all else failed, I promised to lead an effort to replace them in the next election!

Not a very “politically correct” or “warm and fuzzy” statement, I know… But, it’s what I said I would do… (and as we have subsequently come to learn, it’s what was necessary!)

Lakewood residents responded, back then, by setting a, then, all time historical record – not just by writing in my name and electing me as trustee – but by doing so in record numbers – achieving the highest vote count (by a substantial margin) for any elected official in our village history!

The 2015 election was, by all rights, a mandate of it’s own!

Or, at least it should have been…

Following that historical “mandate” 2015 election, the Northwest Herald wrote a very telling article entitled:

“Write-In Candidate’s Win Doesn’t Change Thinking on Lakewood Board”

The gist of this story was summed up in one key sentence in the article:

“But the upset by a write-in candidate doesn’t have any of the trustees the Northwest Herald spoke with changing their minds on these major issues…”

The reporter went on to quote trustees Ken Santowski, Gene Furey and others, essentially stating that they had no intention of changing their way of governing, or decision making, despite the historical upset election. They intended to “ignore the mandate”.

And, sadly, as the past two-years have proven, they did exactly that!

[You can read the article here: ]

2017 – A New “Mandate”

Over the course of the last two years, more and more residents came together, more and more stayed informed, read and shared my Newsletters and became engaged when necessary.

Together, we began to have our voices heard and began to FORCE some much needed change within our village government.

Together, we were able to thwart plans to do away with night-time police patrol in Lakewood and were able to keep our police on patrol at night…

Together, we caused the return of a secret patronage bonus to our former village manager…

Together, we saw the resignation of our former village manager…

Together, we overcame contempt, and passed our historical Lakewood Property Tax Referendum, giving Lakewood residents a first-ever voice in our property tax levy…

And, most recently, this April 4th, we together, overwhelmingly took back our village government in yet another historical record setting fashion!

Together, we set a new mandate!

The 2017 Final Tally

In our village president race, the final vote count was as follow:
This vote total of 588, surpassed our 2015 historical record of 544. And, while I don’t know that it sets any records, I do know that achieving 70% of the vote in any contested race, is pretty much unheard of.

(I feel compelled to clarify here, that this is not me boasting of “my” accomplishment… This is simply me saying “Look what can be accomplished when we come together, stay informed and engage when needed!”

This is also me pointing out to all who may be reading: “Lakewood is awake! Lakewood is engaged! And, Lakewood is taking back the reigns of our government, effective immediately!”

In our village trustee race, the final vote count was as follows:

Phil Stephan 544 Votes 22.9% of total votes
Richard Ritchie             539 votes 22.7% of total votes
Amy Fues Odom     595 votes 25.1% of total votes
Gene Furey 349 votes 14.7% of total votes
John Schrauf 347 votes 14.6% of total votes

Amy’s vote count of 595 votes sets the all time record for our village – and when looking at the total vote percentages by average of “teams” vs. individuals, The Lakewood Tax Fighter Trustee Team received 62% of the vote vs. 38% going to the “Business as Usual” Team of Gene Furey & John Schrauf.

Moving Forward

Our team will take office and assume our new positions in May. As with any new trustee or president, there will be a degree of a learning curve, but we will work together in the spirit of “good and honest government,” ever mindful of the promises we made, and we will work diligently to get the job done.

As many have heard me say again and again, none on this team pretend to have all the answers, but rather we acknowledge that we do not, understanding that we will often need to seek out reliable, trustworthy information, which in my experience is a key component to good government.

We will not pretend to know more (or better) than the 4000 residents who have entrusted us oversee our village government.
​And, as our next Village President, I will be ever mindful that I am here to serve the residents (not to be served), to enrich the taxpayers and to empower families – and I will be ever vigilant in my efforts with other elected officials, developers, and others – that the Lakewood residents & taxpayers will be protected – and governed responsibly and advantageously – with the best interests of ALL residents of Lakewood being first and foremost.

Thank you for your trust,

Paul D. Serwatka