McConnaughay Reports

A communication from State Senator Karen McConnaughay:

Karen McConnaughay

Karen McConnaughay

We are now more than three weeks into a new fiscal year. As this budget stalemate continues, what has become clear is that there are stark differences between how the two political parties approach the budget situation.

I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem, and put Illinois on a more firm fiscal footing, is to pass fundamental reforms to how state government operates, and to approve a balanced, constitutional budget.

We can’t continue to rely on the same failed policies that have put us in this situation. It’s time to sit down and come up with a real bipartisan compromise to end this stalemate.

As this budget stalemate continues, I hope you will contact me or my office with questions or concerns you may have. You can also visit my legislative website at http://senatormcconnaughay.com/.

Karen McConnaughay
State Senator for the 33rd District

Budget stalemate continues

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republican lawmakers are seeking a constitutional 12-month budget anchored on solid governmental and business reforms to improve the state’s economy, freeze property taxes, and implement term limits and take “politics” out of the process of drawing legislative boundaries.

Read more about the ongoing stalemate here…

Human trafficking bills signed into law

Gov. Rauner took action on a number of bills during the week, including signing into law several co-sponsored by Sen. McConnaughay that aim to fight human trafficking in Illinois.

Human Trafficking Hotline (SB 43): Requires the Illinois Department of Human Services to cooperate with the Illinois Department of Transportation to promote public awareness of the national human trafficking hotline.

Human Trafficking Defense (SB 1588): Creates an affirmative defense for people charged with prostitution if they can prove that they engaged in prostitution as a result of human trafficking.

Click here for more of the bills signed into law this week…

Four companies close during 10-day period

Four Illinois companies have recently announced that they will close down their manufacturing operations in Illinois, news that further highlights the need to pass reforms to improve Illinois’ jobs-climate.

Read which four companies are leaving Illinois at this link…

Law could help save millions

A new law that would end state payments to benefit recipients who are deceased could save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Read more about this law here…

Part 47 – Who’s Got What

McHenry City Clerk Janice Jones maintains a campaign fund with minimal money.

She repored $5 at the beginning of the year and $5 at the end of March.

The committee was formed in 2001 when she ran for McHenry City Clerk and won.

Jones was re-elected without opposition in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

County Board Vice Chairman to Lose Extra Pay

Yvonne Barnes

Yvonne Barnes

The McHenry County Board’s Human Resources Committee will consider a resolution to eliminate the $5,000 in extra pay that the Vice Chairman (now a woman, Yvonne Barnes) gets.

Newly-elected members of the Board will receive $21,000 per year, plus be able to

participate in any or all of the benefit programs made available now or in the future, to all County employees including, but not limited to medical, dental, and vision plans subject to the same rates, benefit levels, rules and regulations established for County employees

and

may accept mileage reimbursement for attending County Board Meetings or County Board Committee meetings.

Rauner Continues Effort to Kill Legislative Pay Hike

From Governor Bruce Rauner:

Time Running Out to Stop Legislator Pay Raise

– Legislators have until Friday to stop pay hike –

– Pantagraph Newspaper: “Legislator Pay Hike Another Insult to Taxpayers” –

The Illinois House Chambers will be full this week.

The Illinois House Chambers will be full this week.

As Illinois legislators head back to Springfield, tomorrow will mark House members’ last chance to stop a pay raise worth more than $1350 before they get paid Friday, July 31.

House Bill 4225 would stop the pay raises, but Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls refuse to vote on it.

Background from the Associated Press

House Speaker Michael Madigan won’t answer questions about it. After years of well-intended, politically popular votes to reject raises, Chicago Senate President John Cullerton now says it would violate the Illinois Constitution not to take the pay.

When asked later to reconcile repeated votes to reject increases — including in 2014, after the court ruling — Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon released a statement reiterating the constitutional proscription.

That hasn’t stopped Republicans from trying to nix the money.

Democrats refuse to call a vote on the GOP legislation.

Additional Background

The General Assembly has previously voted to reject legislator COLAs in FY10, FY11, FY12, FY13, FY14 and FY15. (Compensation Review Act – 25 ILCS 120/5.6-6.2)

Rauner links to editorials supporting his position in

The Bloomington Pantograph

The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus

One Echo from Franks’ TRUMPet

Jack Franks

Jack Franks

Last week, Reboot Illinois mentioned how State Rep. Jack Franks criticized Donald Trump on the House floor.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, started the discussion with a succinct point:

“I just want people to know that I hate Donald Trump.”

Franks said he found Trump’s earlier remarks about Mexicans who illegally crossed the U.S. border “racist, xenophobic chants” and found his comments about U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., equally “obnoxious and ridiculous.”

Calling Trump a “cretin,” he added, “we shouldn’t give up on our human decency and respect that we have for each other.”

There was no echo chamber but Reboot as far as I know.

Over Mowing of Roadsides?

The following was written by Lisa Haderlein of The Land Conservancy of McHenry County.  I saw it in the Woodstock Independent on the weekend of July 4th in an edition distributed to Wonder Lake and requested permission from Haderlein to share it with readers of McHenry County Blog.

Roadside Mowing

Roadside prairieHave you driven through Iowa?

The roadsides are beautiful. Native wildflowers and grasses line the roads throughout much of the state, offering habitat for wildlife, especially birds and insects.

Further, Iowa state law prohibits the mowing of roadside meadows until after July 15 except under very specific circumstances. The delay in mowing allows for birds that nest in the grasses to finish raising their chicks before the mowers destroy the nests.

The highway prairie program applies to all public roads in the state, and approximately 50,000 acres of roadsides have been planted with native grasses and wildflowers. Not only does wildlife benefit, but so do the tax payers as fewer resources are spent mowing roadsides.

The Iowa Department of Transportation website includes a long list of benefits from establishing native prairies on road right-of-ways, including

  • low-maintenance weed and erosion control
  • reduced surface water runoff
  • reduced snow drifts
  • enhanced wildlife habitat and species diversity
  • natural beauty and filtration of stormwater.

Quite a difference from roadside maintenance in much of McHenry County.

There are two main issues related to roadside maintenance that I’ve observed locally: too much mowing and poorly-timed mowing.

There are certainly hundreds of miles of roadsides in the county that could be mowed less.

I understand that there are safety considerations in some locations – near intersections, culverts and driveways.

But I’ve seen beautiful stands of milkweed mowed to the ground – along with any monarch caterpillars that might have been feeding on the plants – even when the plants are 10 feet back from the pavement.

Can’t we strike a balance between the neatly trimmed roadside and nature?

What if road crews only made one pass with the mower to keep vegetation short nearest to the pavement?

And what if people planted milkweed and other native plants in the rights-of-way in front of their properties?

In just a couple of years, there could be hundreds of acres of habitat for birds and butterflies winding throughout the county.

The problem of poorly-timed mowing is more challenging. This time of year, we all drive past roadsides filled with non-native, invasive and even noxious plants. Chief among these this time of year are wild parsnip, teasel and various types of thistle.

Using US Route 14 as an example, I have seen the numbers of parsnip and teasel plants increase dramatically over the last decade.

This is caused by mowing after the plants have bloomed and set seed, thus spreading the seed up and down the roadside.

Day lilies along the Lake Avenue right-of-way at our home in Lakewood.

Day lilies along the Lake Avenue right-of-way at our home in Lakewood.

The most effective way to eliminate these plants is to mow them while they are still flowering.

Some will flower again, but the plants will be much smaller and the seed production much lower.

The teasel and parsnip are both biennials, meaning that the plants die after they produce seed. By continuing to time the mowing to keep the plants from setting seed, these plants can be eliminated. And adding native plants to compete will help keep the invasives from coming back.

There are approximately 2,500 miles of roads in McHenry County. The total includes Interstates, State Routes like Illinois Route 176, County highways, Township road and those roads located in cities and villages.

Just imagine if even 10% of those roadsides were planted with and managed for native grasses and wildflowers?

= = = = =
When Rod Blagojevich took office, his wife Patti announced that she was going to promote the planting of wildflowers along state highways.

I doubt she was inspired by one of my press releases when I ran for Governor against her husband and Jim Ryan.

My idea was to turn the roadsides into what Illinois used to look like when it was prairie.

I figured that we had lots of prisons south of I-80 where inmates could grow the flowers inside the walls and then plant them.

(I shared this idea in a letter to her.)

It would have been a tourist attraction for the Prairie State.

Message of the Day – A Sign

Here is a “not in my backyard” sign that is along Route 47 south of Dwight.

The sign against windmills says, "

The sign against windmills says, “Our Country, Our Health” and promotes the group’s web site–PCWindfarm.com.

Information is presented on the group’s web site PC Windfarm.

Such a fight has not reached McHenry County, but it certainly has taken place in DeKalb and Boone Counties, adjacent to us.

Searching for the Motivation for the Township Consolidation Push

This is not the first time that I have wondered why folks are putting so much effort into getting township consolidation referendums on the ballot.

In this proposal, Grafton would be merged with Algonquin Township creating a mega-township with 142,000 people,

In this proposal, Grafton would be merged with Algonquin Township creating a mega-township with 142,000 people, The four townships in the southeaster part of the County would be merged.  An effort to merge elementary school districts in the Marengo area succeeded, except for Riley’s Grade School District, whose voters decided to remain independent.  The suggestion of merging Greenwood with McHenry Township forgets that Greenwood people are east of Wonder Lake and in the Woodstock School District.  They are not oriented toward McHenry.  If Dunham merged with Chemung, Chemung would dominate it.  Because of its larger population, Hartland Township would dominate Alden.  Nunda is split between Crystal Lake and McHenry.  There is no easy way for east-west traffic.  Nunda residents do not identify with Woodstock, shopping in either Crystal Lake or McHenry.  Richmond and Burton Township have approximately the same population, but both are twice the size of Hebron.  Richmond and Burton do share high and elementary schools.  Merged, the two townships would have about the same geography as McHenry, Nunda and Algonquin Townships

It seems to me that none of the smaller townships will end up with majorities that will agree to merge their township with a neighboring township that is larger.

Maybe some will vote to merge with a similar-sized township, but I doubt it.

Here are statistics provided by the township consolidation proponents that relate to the map above.

Here are statistics provided by the township consolidation proponents that relate to the map above.

After reading the only two letters in the Northwest Herald on Friday and letting that percolate for a day or so, I came up with a possible motivation for the consolidation movement.

One letter was from Gregory Walker of Lake in the Hills.

It attacks the Bob Miller family for income received from Algonquin Township, plus quotes township consolidation leader Mike Shorten’s claim that $40 million could be saved over ten years.

It also notes Coral Township Supervisor Roger Naylor’s accurate complaint that no cost-benefit study has been performed.

The second map presented by the consolidation proponents leaves Algonquin Township as is.

The second map presented by the consolidation proponents leaves Algonquin Township as is.  Coral would be merged with Grafton.  Coral has 3,500 people, while Grafton is the second largest populated township in McHenry County with 53,000 folks. Riley, Marengo and Seneca would be consolidated.  Seneca is split between those close to Woodstock and those nearer Marengo.  Riley, as noted above, refused to join with Coral and Marengo in elementary school consolidation.  The Riley Township Board has already passed a resolution opposing consolidation.  Again merging Nunda and Dorr is suggested.  See comment under the first map for the lack of commonality of the three population centers–Crystal Lake, McHenry and Woodstock.  The same comments above apply to merging Greenwood with McHenry Township and putting Hebron, Richmond and Burton together.

The irony of Mr. Walker’s letter is that Algonquin Township is the largest township in McHenry County and unlikely to be merged with another.

Twp consolidation stats for map 2

Here are the statistics provided by township consolidation proponents for the second map.

The second letter takes a similar theme.

Judi Szilak

Judi Szilak

The NWH has headlined it, “The family business.”

By Judi Szilak, who spoke about the abuses of patronage in McHenry County when she spoke to the County’s Township Consolidation Task Force, buy did not mention the Millers to the best of my recollection, attacks “cronyism and nepotism.”

As at the meeting, she attacked the new County Clerk for hiring her husband and the new County Sheriff for hiring people from outside of McHenry County.

She also takes a whack at those attending the Task Force meeting.

It “was full of friends and family with generations of family officeholders,” she wrote.

So what did these letters bring to mind.

If the consolidation referendums are going to fail, why hold them?

I think it is to provide nine months of negative publicity for township government with the ultimate goal of convincing a required 75% of the McHenry County electorate to vote to abolish township government in some future election.

Why else would politically savvy people be spending their time getting referendums on the ballot which have so close to zero a chance of resulting in merger of any townships?

Please share your thoughts on the motivation of those pushing the idea of township consolidation.

Remember for consolidation to take place approval of each of the townships to be merged is required.

So far no resident of one of the rural townships has spoken up in favor of merging with a neighboring township.

The only resident to speak from that part of the county was Pat Kennedy of Dunham Township.

She expressed satisfaction with the way her township was run.

Part 46 – Who’s Got What

Bridgett Provenzano, who ran in the Republican primary for Nunda Township Supervisor, maintains a campaign committee.

When I looked at the summary report, it shows no money at the beginning of the year, no money at the end of the first three months.

Also no money in, no money out.

Same for the second three months of 2015.

Rauner Appoints Spring Grove Man

A press release from Govenror Bruce Rauner:

Governor Announces Appointments

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner announced today he has made appointments to the Illinois Workforce Investment Board, the State University Retirement Board, the Medical Disciplinary Board, the Medical District Commission, and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

Name: Angela Mason

Position: Board Member – Illinois Workforce Investment Board

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Angela Mason to Illinois Workforce Investment Board. She brings more than 11 years of management and leadership experience to the board.

Currently, Mason works as the Associate Vice President, Urban Agriculture/Windy City Harvest of the Chicago Botanic Garden. In this role she oversees the development and management of the program including budgeting, fundraising, staff and business development. Mason previously held two other positions with the Chicago Botanic Garden, Director of Windy City Harvest and Manager of Community Gardening.

Over the course of her career, Mason has developed and implemented effective programs across Chicagoland. She has collaborated with local, state and national government entities as well as with cultural, non-profit and educational institutions.

Mason holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in soil and general agriculture from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. She lives in Chicago.

Name: Eloy Salazar

Position: Board Member – Illinois Workforce Investment Board

Governor Bruce Rauner has reappointed Eloy Salazar to the Illinois Workforce Investment Board. He has served on the board since December 2012.

Salazar has been with the Illinois Migrant Council since 1969. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director. He is in charge of the day-to-day operations and human services program for the council. Salazar also served as an associate director, field operations director, regional director and job developer.

In addition to his role at the council, Salazar is active on a number of professional and civic boards that include: Illinois Affordable Housing Task Force, Workforce Development Board of East Central Illinois, Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, Arden Shore Child and Family Services and Pilsen Wellness Center.

Salazar holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Illinois State University. He lives in Mundelein.

Name: Francis Idehen Jr.

Position: Board Member – State Universities Retirement Board

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Francis Idehen, Jr. to the State Universities Retirement Board. He brings a strong background in pension investment strategies and investment relations to the board.

Idehen is currently Vice President for Investor Relations at Exelon Corporation. At Exelon, Idehen is responsible for developing and implementing the company’s strategic investor relations program. He was previously a managing director at Exelon, where he developed and executed an investment strategy of more than $3 billion in alternative investments for the company’s pension plan and other retirement plans. Before coming to Exelon, Idehen was a Senior Portfolio Manager at Intel Corporation, and an Associate at Lehman Brothers.

Idehen holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. He lives in Chicago.

Name: Albert F. Tracy

Position: Board Member – Medical Disciplinary Board

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Albert F. Tracy to the Medical Disciplinary Board. He brings more than a decade of health service investigation and close to 30 years of tax law enforcement experience to the board.

Tracy currently serves as a health service investigator for the State of Illinois, a position he has held since 2002. Before working for the State of Illinois, Tracy worked for almost 30 years as a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service, ensuring that the tax code was properly enforced.

Tracy is also President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9F, and is a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, The Illinois Police Association and the Federal Criminal Investigator’s Association.

Tracy holds a degree in education from Chicago State University. He resides in Spring Grove.

Name: George Bilicic

Position: Member – Illinois Medical District Commission

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed George Bilicic to the Illinois Medical District Commission. His experience in finance and investment banking makes him an asset to the commission.

Bilicic is currently the Vice President of Investment Banking at Lazard and oversees the company’s banking efforts in the areas of power, energy and infrastructure. He also serves on the firm’s Investment Banking Committee. He has worked for Lazard since 2002, except for a few months spent at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. He also spent a year at Merrill Lynch from 2001-2002.

Prior to his work in banking, Bilicic was a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He joined the firm as an associate in 1989, and his practice focused on mergers and acquisitions.

Bilicic earned his bachelor’s degree from DeSales University and his law degree from Georgetown University. He lives in Chicago.

Name: Connie Beard

Position: Chairman – Illinois Liquor Control Commission

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed the Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) to lead the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC). Beard will do this in conjunction with her duties as Director of IDOR, and will forego any compensation related to her role as chairman. The ILCC is already under the purview of IDOR, and work very closely together. Having Beard serve as the head of both will save taxpayers money, and will help both agencies work together more efficiently.

Beard joined the administration in January, bringing more than 30 years of experience in state and local taxes to the position. From 1997 to 2015 she was the Executive Director for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tax Institute. Prior to that, Beard worked for IDOR under Governors Thompson, Edgar and Ryan. She held a number of positions, rising to the position of Deputy General Counsel.

Beard is a licensed attorney, earning her law degree from the University of Illinois. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Illinois University. Beard currently resides in Jacksonville.