New MCC Trustee Michael Smith Deciding Vote on Tax Hike

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

The McHenry County College Board was split 4-3 last year on whether or not to collect the same amount of money this year as the year before.

Since then tax fighter Tom Wilbeck has moved slightly out of the district, forcing his resignation.

Appointed to replace him was Lakewood’s Michael Smith.

If the three votes for a constant budget–Molly Walsh, Ron Parrish and Chris Jenner–vote the same way this year as they did last year, Smith represents the swing vote on the issue.

This is how the taxes were spread in McHenry County last year.  Source: McHenry County Conservation District.

This is how the taxes were spread in McHenry County last year. Source: McHenry County Conservation District.

To remain on the Board he must run for election next April.

Smith ran at the last election, but was unsuccessful.

McHenry County College collects about 4% of the property taxes in McHenry County, but because Districts 300 and 220 are in the Elgin Community College District the percentage is higher if you live in MCC’s boundaries.

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See also “A Critique of McHenry County College’s Financial Path.”

Simple Pleasure Denied

I don’t know why people like water, but they certainly do.

Maybe bodies of water have a calming effect on humans.

In any event, I have savored the view from the stop sign at Lake Avenue right in front of the Crystal Lake Park District’s Main Beach.

Now, the view of Crystal Lake is pretty much gone.

Look closely and one can see Crystal Lake on the far right hand side of this picture.

Look closely and one can see Crystal Lake on the far right and left hand sides of this picture.

Replacing it at first were some tarp-covered equipment.

Sailboats, paddle boats or something like that.

This past week piers were placed where they almost block the entire view of the lake.

There are plenty of places that such visually polluting storage could take place without blocking the view.

Behind the natural hill on the lakeside of the Leather’s wooden play structure, for example.

GOP Sends Pitch to District 6

The McHenry County Republican Party has mailed a postcard to residents in the Western part of McHenry County.

Presumably similar mailings will arrive in the rest of the county.

There is no contest for County Board in District 6 with Michele Aavang and Larry Smith running unopposed by any Democrat.

It will be interesting to see if there is a promotion of the Republicans being challenged in Districts 1, 3 and 4.

You can see the mailing below:

GOP D6 Maining 1022-14 address

The address side of the mailing shows the new face of the Republican Party, Chairman Sandy Salgado. The candidacies of Bill Prim for Sheriff and Bruce Rauner for Governor are highlighted.

GOP D6 Maining 1022-14 back

New faces are also featured on the back of the piece.


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It is disappointing that Steve Reick’s candidacy against long-long-time incumbent Democrat Jack Franks (who promised to limit himself to three terms) is not emphasized on the back.

Cook County Vote Switching Machine Leads to State Board of Elections Complaint

A press release from Defend the Vote:

Defend The Vote Files HAVA Complaint against the Voting Machines in Chicago and Cook County

Published on Thursday, 23 October 2014 05:14 | Written by Editor Sharon Meroni

Blue Ribbon from the Crook County Fair.

It appears that Cook County Clerk David Orr is bucking for a Blue Ribbon at the Crook County Fair.

Defend the Vote – via Sharon Meroni- filled a HAVA complaint against the Dominion/Sequoia electronic voting machines currently under fire in Suburban Cook County (Illinois) for switching votes from the Democrats to the Republicans.

We filed two complaints on August 22nd, 2014.

These machines (Edge Plus 2 and the 500c) are also in Nevada and were reputed to do the same thing in the last Harry Reid 2010 re-election bid; switching votes from Sharron Angle to Reid.

This complaint was before the Illinois State Board of Elections earlier this week, on Tuesday October 21st. The next step is we go into a process referred to as “alternative dispute resolution”. Within a couple of weeks, the complaint will move forward.

To understand how HAVA complaints are processed in Illinois, you can read about the process on the JCAR website.

This is meant to be a very brief update to link the public to our filings.

The next step in the process is an independent organization must be selected to review Meroni’s complaint. Two were filed. Both Meroni and the ISBE will select this arbitrator.

HAVA Complaint 1 – To Remove the 90 Day Restrictive Clause

HAVA Complaint – Dominion EdgePlus2 DID NOT Pass 2002 Voting System Standards

The complaint from August alleges with documentation that the Dominion/Sequoia EdgePlus2 and the 500c machines in use in Chicago and Suburban Cook County NEVER passed federal error-rate accuracy tests and that the manufacturer (Dominion) pulled the machines from production and from testing when it repeatedly failed the error testing mandated standards.

We wrote about this earlier in the year. A listing of related articles can be found in this search of our website.

We are a small group and deeply involved with fighting thes

Oberweis to Durbin: Answer Hostile Work Environment Question

A press release from State Senator Jim Oberweis, who is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senator against Dick Durbin.

Oberweis calls on Durbin to release secret internal sexual harassment report

Jim Oberweis

Jim Oberweis

SUGAR GROVE — Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Jim Oberweis today called on Dick Durbin to release a secret internal sexual harassment report that claims to “clear” his longtime political confidant and chief of staff of sexual harassment allegations.

When Oberweis called for Durbin to release the report during last night’s televised debate on ABC 7 Chicago, Durbin never gave an answer.

“What is Dick Durbin hiding?” Oberweis asked.

“Taxpayers paid for an internal report and they have a right to see it.

“They have a right to determine whether it was a real investigation or a whitewash.”

Background:
Dick Durbin

Dick Durbin

Q. Have you been in touch with Durbin since your firing?

A. No. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hurtful to realize how easily he could just dispatch me. The senator was aware of [the director’s behavior] and didn’t really care. If you took it too seriously, that was kind of seen as whining: “This is what it is to work here. Suck it up and deal with it.”

ROONEY: …the Chief of Staff …as depicted….was I guess you could say, inappropriate and so the essay explored…it wasn’t a sexual relationship and I didn’t pursue it as sexual harassment….but it was just an analysis of this….

WLS HOST LAUREN COHN: It was something that made you uncomfortable?

ROONEY: …it was an office dynamic…this powerful man who was close to the senator….kind of got to treat young women as he felt like….and you know when I first got there I kinda raised the issue of its inappropriateness and was sort of told I could either leave….or stay…and I own that decision, I chose to stay….

  • Although Daly got a new title, “Senior Advisor” rather than “Chief of Staff,” and no longer had supervisory authority, he didn’t get “demoted.” Throughout the whole time, Daly was paid $169,459 per year. His salary stayed unchanged from 2009-2013. In effect, he got the same pay with less responsibility. Some would call that a promotion.

  • According to Senate records, Daly left the Senate payroll on March 6, 2014.

Diaper Bank Dinner/Auction Saturday Night

The McHenry County Diaper Bank, under the leadership of the Rev. Phyllis Mueller (founder of the Home of the Sparrow), is holding its annual fundraiser at d’Andrea’s in Crystal Lake this Saturday night.

Door open for the $50 event at 6 and dinner will be served after people get a good look at the goodies being offered in a silent auction.

The Northern Illinois Diaper Bank fundraiser invitation.

The Northern Illinois Diaper Bank fundraiser invitation.

A Critique of MCC’s Financial Path

This arrived from a friend of McHenry County Blog.  It appears that McHenry County’s nursing home isn’t the only taxing entity that is squirreling money away.  (See “Continued Over Taxation for Valley Hi in County Budget.”)

McHenry County College continues to generate massive surpluses every year.

Over the last 5 years MCC has accumulated just over $30 million in surpluses.

Even though the number of credit hours continues decline in each of the last 3 years, Operating Expenses continue to increase every year.

In 2011, MCC delivered 160,351 Credit Hours at a cost of $51.0 million.

This past year, MCC delivered only 142,811 Credit Hours at a cost of $60.6 million.

In only 3 years, MCC’s Operating Cost/Credit Hour has gone from $318/Hour to $424.40/Hour which represents a cost increase of 33.4% in only 3 years.

How is it possible that Credit Hours continue to decline, but Operating Expenses continue to increase?

Is it fraud?

Managerial incompetence?

Willful negligence?

Lack of Board oversight/direction?

Except for the new Student Trustee Justin Peters, the players remained the same until the end of the meeting when Tom Wilbeck resigned.

Except for the new Student Trustee Justin Peters, the players remained the same until the end of the meeting when Tom Wilbeck resigned.  Willbeck was replaced by Michael Smith.

All of the above?

To see how egregious the overspending actually is, just imagine if they held the cost/hour flat from 2011 to 2014 (which should not have been hard to do).

At $318/hour, MCC would have only spent $45.4 million not $60.6 million for a difference of $15.2 million!

This little quick exercise demonstrates the massive spending problem MCC has.

Until the Trustees get serious about exercising their fiduciary responsibility by initiating spending controls in a declining enrollment environment, they have no moral ground to stand on by asking the taxpayers for more revenue.

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The analysis is excellent.

It takes me back to my time in the United States Budget Bureau in 1965-6. The Federal government had just introduced performance measures for all agencies. I remember the initials were PPBS. We joked that it stood for “Piss Poor Budget Standards,” because of their weakness in measuring performance. (They tended to measure activity, rather than output.)

Perhaps the MCC Board should require the cost per credit hour to be included in its budget as a performance measure each year.

And maybe the person who wrote the comment would send some contact information. We need people like this on elective bodies.

36 Years for Bank Robbing Federal Prison Escapee

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

MCC ESCAPEE JOSEPH BANKS SENTENCED TO 36 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ARMED BANK ROBBERIES

CHICAGO — A Chicago man who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in December 2012, just five days after he was convicted of armed robbery of two banks and attempting to rob two others in 2007 and 2008, was sentenced today to 36 years in federal prison. Approximately $547,000 stolen in the two robberies remains missing.

JOSEPH BANKS, also known as “Jose Banks,” 39, “intimidated and terrified” employees and bystanders at each of the four banks and those victims’ fears were renewed when Banks escaped and remained at large for three days before he was recaptured, Assistant U.S. Attorney Renato Mariotti argued in seeking a lengthy sentence.

“The defense claims [Banks’] bank robberies were common, but they inflicted an uncommon level of terror, by his design,” Mr. Mariotti said.

Rejecting Banks’ claims that he is “humble” and “anti-gun,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer called Banks “narcissistic,” adding that he was and remains “a threat and a menace” to society. Judge Pallmeyer further rejected Banks’ so-called “sovereign citizen” defense, which he maintained at his trial in December 2012 and which he admitted was an act.

Banks was also ordered to pay $589,000 restitution. He has been in federal custody for six years and will receive credit for time served. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence and there is no parole in the federal prison system.

With nearly two dozen prior convictions, Banks was found guilty at a trial in December 2012 of attempting to rob the First Commercial Bank, 6945 North Clark St., on Aug. 30, 2007, and Chase Bank, 5134 North Clark St., on Aug. 26, 2008. He was arrested a week later on Sept. 3, 2008.

On Dec. 28, 2007, Banks was wearing a fake beard, a wig, sunglasses, gloves, a suit, and an overcoat when he entered the Citibank branch located 3128 North Ashland Ave.

Armed with a gun, he leaped the counter, pushed bank employees to the ground, and forced them to open the vault for him. An employee suffered a panic attack and clutched his chest, hyperventilated, turned pale, and fell to the floor, thinking all the while that he was having a heart attack and would die. Banks fled the bank with approximately $317,000, which was never recovered.

On July 19, 2008, wearing a black stocking mask that obscured his face, Banks robbed a different Citibank branch located at 3753 North Clark St. Again, Banks brandished a gun and forced his way into the vault before fleeing with approximately $272,000.

Of that, approximately $42,000 was recovered from a safe deposit box while the remaining $230,000 has never been found. Evidence at Banks’ trial showed that he spent some of the money on several vehicles.

Zachary Fardon

Zachary Fardon

Banks and his cellmate, Kenneth Conley, another convicted bank robber, escaped through the wall of their cell at the MCC and repelled down the exterior of the high-rise federal detention facility. Conley was captured two weeks later and is serving a sentence of 20 years for bank robbery, consecutive to 41 months for the escape.

The sentence was announced today 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. Also representing the government were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sheri Mecklenburg and Peter Salib.

Republicans Roll Out NWH Advertising Campaign

On page five of Sunday’s Northwest Herald was the first of what must be at least several ads for GOP candidates paid for by the McHenry County Republican Party.

It features gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and Sheriff’s candidate Bill Prim. You can see most of the half page color ad below. On the right hand side of the page were the names of all the Republican candidates on the ballot.

GOP Ad NWH 10-19-14

About 30% of the households in McHenry County receive the NWH.

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It seems to me that Steve Reick’s candidacy should have been featured as well. Maybe that will appear in a future ad.

The Herald does offer zoned advertising, although with the way legislative districts are drawn, the zones would be hard to match the districts.

Guess that means the GOP could also feature County Board districts were Democrats are running. There are four Democrats on the ballot covering all of the densely populated part of the County but Crystal Lake south of Crystal Lake Avenue and northern Lake in the Hills.