The Condition of the Bottom of Crystal Lake in 2007

Reprinted from the earliest days of McHenry County Blog, the time when articles were wiped out by Google after its labeling this publication a “spam blog.”

Crystal Lake’s Lake Bottom in Good Shape

1-4-7 For those worried about what local residents have done to Crystal Lake, there is good news from the Illinois State Geologic Survey.

At the deepest spot found—42.3 feet—there are only two feet of siltation since the white man arrived!

That’s what was found from a 30-foot core sample taken while the ice was frozen.

That means Crystal Lake at one time was 72 feet deep.

I figured that it was time to call Geologist Brandon Curry back for an update on what he found while doing a project for the Crystal Lake Park District.

To put it Curry’s words:

We took a core from ice near the center of the lake in 42 feet of water that was 30 feet long….

That’s 30 feet of sentiment filled in since 16,000 years ago. Of that 30 feet, about 2 feet of it is post-settlement.

“That is so exciting!” I said.

“That’s not a lot of guck,” was the reply.

“Is that a new scientific term?” I asked.

“We use terms like that all the time,” Curry revealed.

Last May I saw the Illinois State Geologic Survey boat out on Crystal Lake. It was going back and forth, back and forth, updating the depth map from 1957.

“The boat at that time was using a method called seismic reflection,” Curry explained, “and it was making water depth measurements.

“The equipment would not work accurately in water shallower than about 10 feet.

“In many places where it is shallow (less than about 6 feet deep), rocks are visible, so there has been little or no siltation in those areas. That covers quite a bit of the lake.

“Much of the water in the West End is so shallow that a geologist had to jump into the water with a measuring stick.”

And, there’s more work to be done. Curry says for $15,000 he could study droughts over the last 2,000 thousand years.

Tomorrow, what about the West End?

= = = = =
In late December before the ice disappeared, these geese were sitting on what was left near Gate 5. When I got close, they took off.

The bathymetric map show is from 1957. Presumably the deepest spot remains where the darkest spot is on this map.

Off to the right of the boat is the device that measures the depth of the lake. The bottom two images were provided by the State Geologic Survey this past May.

ECW Opines on Kenneally’s Words: Justice is Ethics and Truth in Action

Printed with permission.

McHenry County State’s Attorney – His words: Justice is Ethics and Truth in Action

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally has the term“Justice is Ethics and Truth in Action” on his website.So what does “Justice is Ethics and Truth in Action” really mean?

Of interest in that phrase is the word Action.  It mean’s doing something, as without action you can never identify truth. The Ethics part is the tough one as once truth is identified, ethics come into play.

In October of 2017, I filed a criminal complaint regarding McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks and his filing of false and incomplete Statement of Economic Interest documents.  We wrote about it in a couple articles hereand here. In that case, much like the Algonquin Township situation, the Sheriff refused to investigate citing a conflict and the State Police refused to open an investigation as well.

When I presented those refusals to act to the State’s Attorney, one thing he made clear was his first duty was to represent his client, Mr. Franks.

That case received no action, thus no truth could ever be independently identified regarding the ethics violations, thus no justice.

In the case of the Algonquin Township Road District, once again the Sheriff and the State Police refused to investigate.  By all indications, those agencies appear to be collecting taxpayer dollars all while not performing the very duties required of them, to investigate crimes.

Those police agency’s inaction left the Algonquin Township Road District situation in the hands of the State’s Attorney and his one investigator.  We understand there is still an ongoing criminal investigation, however, we hold little faith in the criminal justice system as it relates to public officials, as the politics appear to always play a role in the favor of the public official, thus the people rarely see justice from local prosecutions.

However, there is one more option worthy of pursuit and it starts with the Powers and Duties of the State’s Attorney’s office.

(55 ILCS 5/3-9005) Powers and duties of State’s attorney.
(a) The duty of each State’s attorney shall be:
(1) To commence and prosecute all actions, suits, indictments and prosecutions, civil and criminal, in the circuit court for his county, in which the people of the State or county may be concerned.

Yes, the State’s Attorney has the power to bring a civil action.  Is there anyone that believes the people of the County are not concerned as it relates to the Algonquin Township Road district improper spending?

How much power does a State’s Attorney really have?

“Further, we noted that a “State’s Attorney is a constitutional officer with rights and duties ‘analogous to or largely coincident with the Attorney General, though not identical, and the one to represent the county or People in matters affected with a public interest.’ ” Id. at 476, 294 Ill.Dec. 613,831 N.E.2d 563 (quoting People ex rel.)”

We already know the investigation by his office identified actionable offenses by public officials, thus the people should see ethics and truth in action, which we believe would lead to justice, just like his quoted phrase from his own website.

Let’s apply Kenneally’s own words from his investigation report:

“We note too that the Township’s or Road District’s interest here can be readily vindicated in civil court by suing to recover any spending deemed inappropriate.”

Considering he has clearly identified inappropriate spending and documented that the people could be readily vindicated in civil court by suing, is it out of line for him to represent his client, the people, and commence that suit in the circuit court of McHenry County and obtain the justice the people deserve?

Contrary to popular belief, the State’s Attorney has more than one client.

“A State’s Attorney has three clients:  The people, the County Board, and the County Officers” (Illinois Attorney General William Scott)

Of interest in the AG opinion is the fact he points to an obligation first to determine which position is correct and then represent that position:

“It is a logical extention that the States’s Attorney, when the interest of the county board and county officers conflict, must determine which position is correct and represent the party with such position or interest.”

Basically confirming that he has a duty to prosecute a county officer if they are violating the law, thus representing the People.

This fact of representing the people is confirmed in a ruling in Madison County just last week where the Judge made it clear, “The State’s Attorney represents the people of the State of Illinois and the county officers of his or her county which are clearly set out in 55 ILCS 3-9005(a)”

The oath of office taken by Kenneally means little if it is not applied.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be), that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of state’s attorney according to the best of my ability.”

Bob Miller explaining the value of township government to the County’s Township Consolidation Task Force.

We are asking the State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally to faithfully discharge the duty of his office, which is to commence a civil action in the McHenry County Circuit Court for the recovery of all items identified as improper in his investigation of the Algonquin Township, Road District, and Bob Miller.

The people deserve to be vindicated, readily, by the very office that knows all the facts and has already investigated and identified a vast amount of wrongdoing.  The very office that was given the power by law to take such action.  The people should not be strapped with the costs of finding an attorney to take the case suggested by his office and considering the taxpayers are paying his costs already, we don’t believe it is out of line to ask that he honor his “Justice is Ethics and Truth in Action” phrase by taking appropriate action which he took an oath to do.

The state of Illinois, ex rel v. Algonquin Township & Algonquin Township Road District and Bob Miller.

Our work is funded entirely thru donations and we
ask that you consider donating at the below link. 

2016 Teacher Salaries in McHenry County Schools

Wish later statistics were available, but the information is still interesting.

Besides the average salaries, the percentage of school operating budgets that go for teachers’ salaries is provided.

The highest average teacher salary is found in Crystal Lake High School District 155.

Nothing is even close to its $89,382.

Other high school districts come next.

I’ve always thought that a result of the 1973 Resource Equalizer State Aid to Education formula having been written by high school teacher Gene Hoffman.  I think the formula had a built-in advantage for high school districts that grade school districts did not figure out in time to have an impact.

Of interest to teachers will probably be the low percentage of many school districts’ operating budgets going for teacher salaries.

The state average is 38%.

The highest percentages the Riley Grade School District and the Alden-Hebron Unit School Distrit–Riley over 60% and Alden-Hebron just under.

All the others are lower than 50%, with Algonquin’s District 300 being at a stunning low 26%!


McHenry County School Districts 2016
Average Teacher Salaries
DISTRICT Average Teacher Salary Teacher Salaries Percent of Oper Budget
Nippersink Grade Sch 2 $55,803 43%
Fox River Grove Grade Sch 3 56,283 36%
McHenry Grade Sch 15 64,383 30%
Riley Grade Sch 18 63,073 63%
Cary Grade Sch 26 51,977 36%
Harrison Grade Sch 36 42,770 33%
Prairie Grove Grade Sch 46 53,439 36%
Crystal Lake Grade Sch 47 58,144 42%
Marengo-Union Grade Sch 165 51,904 45%
Marengo High Sch 154 68,780 33%
Crystal Lake High Sch 155 89,382 41%
McHenry High Sch 156 69,522 36%
Richmond-Burton High Sch 157 56,505 30%
Johnsburg Unit Dist 12 63,297 34%
Alden Hebron Unit Dist 19 42,366 57%
Harvard Unit Dist 50 47,288 36%
Huntley Unit Dist 158 58,972 39%
Woodstock Unit Dist 200 59,845 40%
Algonquin Unit Dist 300 56,921 26%
State Average $55,071 38%
Chicago $71,668 41%

Joe Walsh Announces Summer BBQ, Fireworks & Conversation

Ok, Joe Walsh calls it his “Annual Walsh Freedom BBQ.”

Lots of conservatives, plenty of food (bring a dish or drinks), entertainment, fun and fireworks.

It will be on June 23rd. Details outlined in an email from Barb Babbey are below:

It’s time for Joe Walsh’s Annual BBQ.

Please Save the Date.

Saturday, June 23rd starting at 2:00PM join Joe Walsh and his wife Helene at their barn for a fun-filled day.

Although it was a windy night, the fireworks were blasted into the sky the night of this Walsh gathering.

Bring your family and friends, wear your comfy gym shoes and remember your lawn chairs as we dance the afternoon away with entertainment by Scott Swearingen of Big Cat Entertainment and enjoy a fabulous fireworks display at 9:00 PM courtesy of Joe & Cindy Marchetti of Ultimate-FX.

We hope to see you, your family and your friends on Saturday, June 23rd.

Everyone is welcome!

For more information and to RSVP please contact Barb Babbey at 847-804-2112 or email [email protected]

Skillicorn Hosting Town Hall Meeting about Pensions on Wednesday in Algonquin

From State Rep. Allen Skillicorn:

I will be hosting a town hall on June 20th where I, as well as some wonderful guest speakers, will be addressing the full scope of the pension problem that our Illinois government has created. It is free of charge to attend and I hope to see you there.

Over two hundred local municipalities did not make their full pension payment last year.

Details on the image below.

Getting Out from Under the Property Tax Cap

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn asked the Legislative Research Unit to take a look at two questions:

  1. Could property taxes have been lowered by referendum before PTELL [FN 1] [called the Property Tax Cap by most folks]?  If so, did that ever occur?
  2. Is it still possible in the non-PTELL counties to do so?  If so, can a PTELL county revert to non-PTELL status?

McHenry County Blog will share the reply over the next few days.

Referenda to Revert to Non-PTELL Status

A county that adopted PTELL by referendum can choose by referendum to revert to non-PTELL status.

The county board of such a county can initiate a referendum by ordinance or resolution. [FN 42]

The county clerk must then order the proposition to be submitted at any election other than a  consolidated primary, or submit it to the appropriate board of election commissioners.4 [FN 43]

The referendum must ask whether PTELL will apply to non-home-rule taxing districts in the county.4 [FN 44]

After the referendum, the county clerk must notify the affected districts and IDOR that the referendum was held, and report the results.

IDOR must then determine which districts are no longer subject to PTELL, and notify each such district that it will not be subject to PTELL starting January 1 of the next year. [FN 45]

This option is not available to Cook County and the “collar” counties, which are under PTELL by law rather than referendum. [FN46]

Tirio Fundraiser Wednesday

Right before the beginning of summer, Republican McHenry County Clerk candidate Joe Tirio is holding a fundraiser.

$60 gets one into The Rib House in Crystal Lake from 5:30-9; $20 if one is a GOP Republican Precinct Committeeman.

Maybe people will get an update on the suit seeking the identity of Jack Franks’ allies who sent the lying mailings and made the lying robo-calls.

Algonquin Township Investigates… Sort Of.

Reprinted with permission from the Edgar County Watchdogs.

Algonquin Township – “We did Investigate” says Board Member Melissa Victor

McHenry Co. (ECWd)-

The local media covered, once again, that the attorney for the Algonquin Township Road District did not have malpractice insurance.  According to that reporting, the attorney said the board acted without investigating, however, Board Member Melissa Victor was quoted as saying “We did investigate”.

We received numerous “demands” that we, too, jump on board and investigate the malpractice insurance matter.

Let that investigation begin!

It would appear this entire malpractice storyline is nothing more than a headline grabber in hopes of disparaging a local attorney or at a minimum, click bait. We say that because of the fact pattern of the exposure, starting with the media and then the very agenda item listed for the meeting where they told the public they were going to adopt a resolution to require attorneys doing business with the Township to carry malpractice insurance.

The local paper reported“The township board voted, 4-1, Wednesday to require all lawyers representing township officials to carry malpractice insurance.” 

Unless we missed something, the board has not voted 4-1 to require all lawyers representing township official to carry malpractice insurance.

Such reporting is completely false when compared to the actual documents. 

Our first question to those trying to make a case that this is an issue would do well to first start with the law…Oh, wait, sorry, there is no law that requires attorney’s to have malpractice insurance.

In fact, the Illinois Supreme Court just last year addressed this issue.

“In accordance with the January 2017 amendment to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 756(e), beginning in 2018, a lawyer who does not maintain malpractice insurance must complete a four-hour online self-assessment course regarding the operations of their law firm or obtain malpractice insurance in order to register to practice law for the following year. “

Interesting perspective from the high court of Illinois. They were so concerned about malpractice insurance that instead of mandating it, they implemented a mandatory four-hour online self-assessment course.  LOL!  Sorry, can’t help but laugh when the uninformed Township Board members once again get out in front of their skis.

Who knew 41% of the sole proprietor attorney’s in Illinois did not maintain malpractice insurance?

“In 2016, approximately 68,000 Illinois lawyers were engaged in the active practice of law; 13,500 of which were sole proprietors. Astonishingly, 41% of these sole proprietors did not maintain malpractice insurance“. –Illinois Supreme Court

It appears the high court was so concerned with this malpractice matter that they implemented a quiz in these new rules.

“Lawyers will also receive an individualized self-assessment printout documenting the results of each module’s self-assessment quiz. No minimum score is required for the quiz.” – Illinois Supreme Court

I wonder how Melissa Victor and any other Board Member who participated in this “investigation”missed these important facts from the High Court in Illinois?

The agenda was a fraud on the public. 

A fraud for several reasons. 

  • The agenda item was “Resolution requesting all attorney’s doing business with the Algonquin Township & Hwy. Dept. must carry malpractice insurance”, however, no such resolution was ever presented to the Board. 
  • The file name of the resolution was: “Resolution on malpractice Insurance”, which it was not, so board members who received the resolution by email were misled on what the actual file was. 
  • The actual resolution title is; “Resolution Recognizing Board’s Authorities Regarding the Audit and Payment of Bills”, which clearly is not a resolution on malpractice insurance.
  • There was no notice provided to the public regarding a resolution pertaining to the board’s adoption of a resolution recognizing the Board’s authorities regarding audit and payment of bills. That is an Open Meetings act violation in our opinion, which if confirmed, is a crime. 

Further investigation has confirmed the resolution adopted in violation of the Open Meetings Act does not even contain the words “Malpractice Insurance”.

I wonder why the local paper reported a malpractice insurance resolution was passed when no such resolution was presented?

The fact there has been so much misinformation, misrepresentations, and failure to disclose key points, like the fact the law does not require malpractice insurance, it becomes clear certain board members and media is more focused on disparagement than the rule of law and reporting facts. I say that because the very resolution they did pass did not even contain the words Malpractice Insurance.  If that was the “real” issue they were so concerned about then why not have an actual resolution with those words?

The resolution simply says it won’t approve the bills of any attorney that does not have proof of Professional Liability Insurance.  It does not say that an attorney cannot represent the Township, Township Road District, Clerk, and/or Assessor without malpractice insurance, thus this whole media frenzy appears to be a case of “fake news”.

We have confirmed the attorney representing the Algonquin Township Road District does, in fact, have the very insurance this bogus resolution points to for board approval on their bills, Professional Liability Insurance.

I wonder how Melissa Victor and any other Board Member who participated in this “investigation”missed these important facts found in their own documents?

We thank those that urged us to “investigate” this matter!

Our work is funded entirely thru donations and we
ask that you consider donating at the below link. 

Taking Power Away from Citizens in Township Government

I have been following Algonquin Township government since I was in college.
In fact, my first public meeting was one on non-dedicated subdivision roads for Silver Lakes.
The township used a law passed by State Rep. George Lindberg (R-Crystal Lake) that was held unconstitutional.
The 1970 Constitution was revised to allow financing through Special Service Area tax districts.
The bonds, however, continued to be paid with property taxes, which I, as County Treasurer, collected from 1967-1970.
But, to the subject in the title of this post.
In the township meetings I attended while running for County Treasurer and while service in that office started out with township electors, ordinary citizens, being able to vote on township budgets.
But, then, citizens in Algonquin and Nunda Townships (and perhaps elsewhere) got uppity.
The stripping of the power of township electors to set the budget is partially because of a motion I supported in the late 1960’s to require the Algonquin Township  Attorney to sue the Supervisor of Assessments for having made our township multiplier too high.
The attorney squander that $500 line item on telling the Township Board why we couldn’t sue, rather than following the instructions given him by the town electors.
That same night, unincorporated residents from Nunda Twp took over that Town Meeting and voted one dollar for each line item in Road Commissioner Leroy Gescke’s budget.
They didn’t know enough about township government, however to know that the Road Commissioner’s salary came out of the Town Fund budget, so, undoubtedly, Geske got paid.
The next year, the General Assembly took the budgeting power away from the electors.
That authority was given to Township Boards.
The same process was most likely the reason that Road Commissioners are so lacking in oversight today.
When township officials see ordinary voters preventing them from doing something, the Township Officials of Illinois has gotten legislation passed to prevent such interference.
Now township citizens can’t add items to the Annual Town Meeting the night of the meeting, they have to do so, with others signing a petition, several weeks ahead of time.
Any claim that township government has a close relationship to direct democracy is long past.

Fossil Spruce Wood and Needles Say Crystal Lake 16,000 Years Old

Another article about the Ilionois State Geologic Survey findings retrieved from the clutches of Google’s having identified McHenry County Blog in the latter part of 2006.

As I reported earlier, Brandon Curry of the Illinois State Geological Survey was in Crystal Lake last May conducting a bathymetric study to map the bottom of the lake.

But he was here in the middle of winter, too, a couple of years earlier.

Separate from the investigation of modern-day lake conditions, such as lake bathymetry (mapping the contours of Crystal Lake), is the study by Curry and other scientists of teeny-tiny fossils, such as ostracodes and plant pollen, to help understand past changes in lake levels and climate.

A sediment core he took in 2002 while the lake was covered by ice now shows scientists that Crystal Lake is 16,000 years old.

The core was taken in 42 feet water near the middle of the lake.

“At the bottom of our 30-foot long sediment core (going down to 72 feet below the water’s surface) were fossils of ancient spruce trees–needles and wood–that we had radiocarbon dated. We now know the age of the lake is about 16,000 years,” Curry told me. “That’s when the glacier left.”

From left to right can be seen a white spruce needle, snowbank willow leaf, and arctic bilberry leaf that Curry emailed me.

“You need about 5 to 10 of these for a radiocarbon date.”

He mentions a bronze box around the fossils, which I could not pick off my screen, “is 1 square centimeter.”

Curry also sent me a picture of the non-vegetable micro-fossil below, along with this explanation:

Here is…one of the microcritters found in the Crystal Lake core.

The species, Limnocythere varia, is an ostracode, a micro- crustacean.

The shell covers the organism like a clam shell clothes a clam (in other words, the ostracodes are bivalved), but the critter inside is built like a shrimp, and not a snail.

Ostracodes have been on this earth for a few hundreds of millions of years; this particular shell is about 8,200 years old, and is a clue that lake levels at that time were quite low.

This organism is quite abundant on the slopes of Crystal Lake at water depths between about 12 to 20 feet.

2016 McHenry County Schools Statistics – Property Tax Comparisons

Right after this year’s real estate tax bills arrived in mailboxes, McHenry County Blog showed how school districts’ tax levies compared with the previous two years’ levies.

A Friend of McHenry County Blog did the heavy lifting in manipulating this data.

Today, we look at not at how bills compare with the year before, but how property taxes vary from school district to school district.

Specifically, what appears below are

  • equalized assessed value per pupil
  • the 2016 tax rate
  • property taxes per pupil
McHenry County School Districts 2016
Property Tax Comparison
DISTRICT EAV per Pupil Tax Rate Property Taxes per Pupil
Nippersink Grade Sch 2 $277,223 4.21 $11,036
Fox River Grove Grade Sch 3 195,984 6.32 12,641
McHenry Grade Sch 15 214,518 5.85 11,266
Riley Grade Sch 18 325,377 4.00 12,984
Cary Grade Sch 26 234,021 4.75 10,306
Harrison Grade Sch 36 150,832 7.66 11,084
Prairie Grove Grade Sch 46 295,010 4.91 14,262
Crystal Lake Grade Sch 47 220,462 4.65 9,676
Marengo-Union Grade Sch 165 207,943 3.53 7,403
Marengo High Sch 154 439,249 3.42 14,660
Crystal Lake High Sch 155 398,149 3.09 11,863
McHenry High Sch 156 446,929 2.89 11,932
Richmond-Burton High Sch 157 455,735 3.89 16,028
Johnsburg Unit Dist 12 168,551 6.93 11,142
Alden Hebron Unit Dist 19 187,868 5.99 10,238
Harvard Unit Dist 50 90,939 7.33 5,863
Huntley Unit Dist 158 122,083 5.97 6,926
Woodstock Unit Dist 200 118,773 8.22 8,977
Algonquin Unit Dist 300 139,637 6.72 8,756
State Average $229,713 4.34 $8,622
Chicago $184,558 3.66 $6,711

There are three types of school districts:

  • Unit school districts which educate kindergarten through 12th grade
  • Elementary school districts that educate kindergarten through eight graders
  • High school districts, educating 9th through 12th graders

The unit highest tax rate, as Susan Handelsman frequently reminds readers of the comment section, is in the Woodstock School District–$8.22 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The lowest unit district is Huntley at $5.97 per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.

Looking at grade schools, the lowest is the Marengo-Union Elementary School District at $3.53.

The highest is Wonder Lake’s at $7.66 per hundred.

The highest tax rate for a high school district is $6.93 in Johnsburg.

The lowest is McHenry’s $2.89.

Chicago Aldermen Have Taken Care of Themselves

When I was a freshman State Representative in 1973, State Reps. were paid $17,500.

Chicago Aldermen were paid $10,000.

Now legislators are paid are paid $67,836, higher if they are a committee chairman or spokesman (which most are).

The lowest-paid Chicago Aldermen get more than $100,000–$104,928 to be exact.

And there are leadership add-ons.

One can talk about the greed of state legislators, but it pales in comparison to Chicago aldermen.

Property Tax Cutting & Raising Referendums in Tax Cap Counties

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn asked the Legislative Research Unit to take a look at two questions:

  1. Could property taxes have been lowered by referendum before PTELL [FN 1] [called the Property Tax Cap by most folks]?  If so, did that ever occur?
  2. Is it still possible in the non-PTELL counties to do so?  If so, can a PTELL county revert to non-PTELL status?

McHenry County Blog will share the reply over the next few days.

PTELL-Authorized Referenda

PTELL has provisions authorizing eight types of referenda.

Six of them authorize taxing districts (or their voters) to initiate referenda to:

• become subject to PTELL [FN 33]
• set the rate for a new tax [FN 34]
• increase the “limiting rate” used to calculate the limit on tax extensions [FN 35]
• increase the tax extension limit (used to limit the growth of a tax rate from year to year) [FN 36]
• establish a levy for a new taxing district (or for a district with no previous levy) [FN 37]
• establish or increase a base tax extension for debt service [FN 38]

Those kinds of referenda, except the first, apply only to districts that are subject to PTELL.

No such referenda would directly change a tax rate, other than a referendum seeking to authorize an entirely new tax extension. We describe below the last two types of referenda, to authorize a reduction of a rate for educational purposes and authorize some PTELL counties to revert to non-PTELL status.

Referenda to Reduce Extensions for Educational Purposes

Voters in a school district subject to PTELL can initiate a referendum by petition to reduce the district’s tax rate for educational purposes, if the district’s “adequacy target” (as calculated under the school funding formula) [FN 39] exceeds 110% in the calendar year immediately before the year when the reduction would take effect.

The petition must be signed by 10% of voters in the district, and cannot propose a reduction by more than 10% or a reduction that would cause the district’s adequacy target to fall below 110%. [FN 40]

If a majority of votes are for the proposed reduction, the tax rate will be reduced by the proposed amount. Once such a referendum has been held, a similar one cannot be held in that district for the next consolidated elections. [FN 41]

More tomorrow.

Defenders Advocated Abandoning Plastic Straws

From the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County:

Bob Novak

Environmental Defenders of McHenry County business member Riverbottom Ice Cream Co. located in Algonquin and owner Bob Novak, demonstrate the switch from plastic straws to paper as part of The Environmental Defenders’ Last Straw Project.

With a business so close to the Fox River, this ensures that plastic straws will not enter the water or environment from this establishment.

The Last Straw Project advocates for replacing plastic straws with paper and declining straws when dining out. We encourage restaurants and cafes all over McHenry County to ask if patrons need a straw.

How Low Can You Go in Crystal Lake?

Depths of the West End of Crystal Lake found in 2006 by the Illinois Geologic Survey.

Continuing on a republication of findings about Crystal Lake by the Illinois Geologic Survey in 2006:

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog reported on the depth measurements made in the West End of Crystal Lake by the Illinois Geological Survey,

The bathymetric survey was done during the middle of last year.

Today, we look at the main body of water. The much larger, eastern basin of the lake was measured, too.

Depths found on the east end of Crystal Lake in 2006 by the Illinois Geologic Survey.

“Maximum depth exceeds 40 feet in a small area in the north central part of the lake,” the report by Timothy H. Larsen and B. Brandon Curry says.

The 40 foot point is directly north of about half way between the South Shores Gate 11 and 13—pretty much directly north from where Lakewood Village Trustee Brian Davis is building a new home.

Depths found in Crystal Lake in 206 by the Illinois Geologic Survey.

The deepest point is just slightly south of a line running straight east from the tip of Rumsey’s Point. I don’t know the North Shore well enough to tell you what the hole is just south of.

There was some wading around the northeastern and east shore, plus pole and old-fashioned weighted line measurements there.

In that area, “the lake bottom dips very gently to about 4 to 6 feet depth where there is an abrupt steepening of the bottom slope to the deeper parts of the basin.”

The two authors compared their modern research with a bathymetrical study performed by Robert Sasman in 1957. It marked ten foot intervals.

“Although less detailed than our map (click to enlarge), the general features of the earlier map, including the maximum depth, shape and depth of the shallows on the north and east and the two eastern channels were similar to our map,” the report revealed.

The researchers also estimated the amount of water in Crystal Lake. At 889.3 feet above sea level, they calculated almost 1.2 billion gallons.

2016 School Student Performance

The final table in our analysis of 2016 school spending focuses on high school graduation rates and how well high school students tested in various subject matters.

A Friend of McHenry County Blog did the heavy lifting in manipulating this data.

Remembering that the high average teacher salary is in Crystal Lake High School District 155, note that its student are not at the top of test school list for math and science.

Crystal Lake was first in math and reading.

But, Richmond-Burton edged out Crystal Lake in science.

Richmond-Burton High School teachers earn about $33,000 less per year than Crystal Lake High School District 155 teachers.

McHenry County School Districts 2016
High School Graduation Rate & Subject Comprehension
HIGH SCHOOLS Rate Math Reading Science All Four
Marengo High Sch 154 91.9 54.0 59.7 54.7 41.7
Crystal Lake High Sch 155 97.2 61.0 60.1 54.0 43.2
McHenry High Sch 156 91.7 37.0 44.4 35.3 23.5
Richmond-Burton High Sch 157 93.5 55.5 56.0 55.5 40.0
Johnsburg Unit Dist 12 95.0 47.5 54.4 50.0 32.5
Alden Hebron Unit Dist 19 96.7 26.7 33.3 33.3 13.3
Harvard Unit Dist 50 84.2 21.6 25.0 20.9 10.1
Huntley Unit Dist 158 89.4 56.0 55.8 48.7 36.3
Woodstock Unit Dist 200 94.9 42.7 48.1 39.7 27.1
Algonquin Unit Dist 300 89.4 41.8 43.1 35.1 26.4
State Average 88.5 40.2 48.5 36.7 25.1
Chicago 82.3 23.2 25.4 19.4 13.1

Being “Wired” by the Feds in the Days of Governor Dan Walker Copy

October 31’s Chicago Sun-Times has an article about one of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s employees having been “wired” by Federal investigators.

That’s never happened to me, but it happened twice that I know of during Governor Dan Walker’s term in the 1970’s.

I often took the train to Springfield then. One trip an engineer of Indian ancestry recognized me and we started talking. It seems that he was the engineer that laid out the roads in Silver Lakes, a subdivision near Cary. Actually, the public hearing Dad and I attended on the project was probably my first political meeting in McHenry County. I was still in college.

The engineer had just been let go by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Walker Adminstration had decided to outsource the planning of the road project that he had been working on. He was still working on the same project. He was just working for a private engineering firm now, as I remember it.

One might speculate that the engineering firm had contributed to Walker’s re-election campaign in order to get the work.

In any event, the engineer told how Walker’s main political guy had tried to shake him down for $1,000 in order to get his job back at IDOT.

When we got off the train, we walked over to the Springfield FBI office, he told his story and agreed to wear a wire in subsequent conversations with Walker’s advisor.

I talked with the engineer later on and, although he tried to talk or talked to the Walker guy 10-12 times, he never got anything incriminating on tape.

There is little doubt that IDOT was being used to raise campaign funds.

The Legislative Audit Commission even had a proposal from Auditor General Bob Cronson to look at the “Artistic and Profession Services” expenditures by IDOT. I looked at the resolution and observed that he was looking at the wrong things. I suggested looking at the relationship between campaign contributions and the issuance of the non-bid contracts. The Democrats on the LAC were not protective of Walker and went along. The finding was that there was a relationship.

The day the report was issued I called the U.S. Attorney and suggested that he take a look at the working papers. The FBI got them that very day, but never followed up…at least with me. Too bad they didn’t call. I could have pointed them in some useful directions, including a holdover guy who worked at IDOT.

= = = = =
Ready for a coincidence?

The engineer presented plans for Silver Lakes Subdivision’s non-dedicated roads while I was in college during the early 1950’s.

My father took me to the meeting, which was held in the Algonquin Township Garage.

This was my first township meeting.

Later, when I was in the Illinois House, I sponsored the bill that allowed half of Motor Fuel Taxes flowing to township road districts to be used on non-dedicated roads.

Property Tax Cutting & Raising Referendums in Non-Tax Cap Counties

State Rep. Allen Skillicorn asked the Legislative Research Unit to take a look at two questions:

  1. Could property taxes have been lowered by referendum before PTELL [FN 1] [called the Property Tax Cap by most folks]?  If so, did that ever occur?
  2. Is it still possible in the non-PTELL counties to do so?  If so, can a PTELL county revert to non-PTELL status?

McHenry County Blog will share the reply over the next few days.

Referenda to Increase or Reduce Property Tax Limits

Limitation to Non-Home-Rule Entities

In a 1980 case [FN23] the Illinois Supreme Court held that the referendum provisions are inapplicable to home-rule units.

The plaintiffs had petitioned for a referendum to lower the tax rate for the corporate fund of the Village of Glenview (a
home-rule unit) from 0.5783% to 0.4337%.

The Village Board voted not to place the proposition on the ballot, and the plaintiffs sought an order compelling it to do so, citing the referendum provisions (at that time in section 162a of the Revenue Act24).

The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ request, holding that the authority of the referendum provisions conflicted with the powers granted by the 1970 Constitution to home-rule units. [FN25]

The Illinois Supreme Court agreed and held that applying the statute would impermissibly restrict the taxing power granted to home-rule units. [FN26]

Referenda Requirements

Under the Property Tax Code’s referendum provisions, the corporate authorities of a taxing district, by resolution, can initiate a referendum to increase or reduce a property tax rate limit. [FN27]

Voters can also initiate a referendum to lower the rate limit (with or without publication of a new rate by the district authorities) by a petition signed by 10% of the legal voters in the taxing district. [FN28]

Propositions can be specific to a particular taxing year or series of years (at the discretion of district authorities); [FN29] can be submitted only once per year; [FN30] and cannot propose a change of more than 25% in the existing rate limit. [FN31]

These provisions specifically do not prevent a taxing district’s governing authority from choosing to implement a rate lower than the limit set by referenda. [FN32]

As stated above, the Illinois Supreme Court held that these provisions do not apply to home-rule units.

PTELL-Authorized Referenda

More tomorrow.