Trustee Ken Santowski Tells of Lakewood Meeting

An email from Lakewood Village Trustee Ken Santowski:

Ken Santowski

Ken Santowski

My fellow Residents:

It was nice to see even a few people in attendance for this evenings board meeting.

A couple of residents had actual business with the board while 2 other residents wanted to voice their concerns about a particular situation within the village.

During the public comments section of the meeting one resident couple voiced their concerns about the restoration part of the east side sewer project.

They were concerned that as the project nears completion the contractor might not be using the best possible materials to finish the restoration. We listened to their concerns and will address them with the contractor. The resident seemed satisfied with our intent to follow through.

There were several other agenda items but one in particular was extremely positive in regards to Lakewood.

One of the parcels of land that was donated to the village on Redtail drive has an offer on it.

We voted to accept the offer since it was within the guidelines of no less than 80% of the appraised value. The offer was from a non-resident which means people are moving into Lakewood. We welcome them.

During trustee comments I replied to a request from Trustee [Paul] Serwatka that the staff changed the way he was receiving his information from the staff prior to each meeting. While the rest of the board was content with the way in which information was provided to us through Dropbox, Trustee Serwatka was not.

Almost all of the information we receive is through scanned documents and then retrieved by each individual staff member and board member through Dropbox . The way we receive this information has been adequate enough for each board member to examine, highlight, take notes on and even print out if necessary.

Trustee Serwatka did not agree and even went so far as to suggest that he was receiving different information than the rest of the board. There is one file in Dropbox that presents our agenda and all of its related material; everyone receives the exact same information. The same information that is available to the public.

His reasoning was because he could not highlight, circle or make notes to the documents provided to him on his village IPad.

Trustee [Jeff] Iden tried to offer him some assistance on how to perform those functions but Trustee Serwatka said it could not be done. Both Trustees Iden and [Carl] Davis showed him examples of how to highlight and write notes but he still insisted it could not be done.

Then Trustee Serwatka mentioned that his IPad battery was dead and that he did most of the village work on his personal computer. Trustee Iden again offered to help him figure out how to make the notes and highlight those areas that were important to him. I pointed out that while the way we receive information may not be the way he wants to receive it, it works quite well for the rest of us.

Again Trustee Iden offered to help him use the tools that were already in place on his Village owned IPad. Trustee Serwatka continued his rhetoric that the staff change the way he receives his information. Again Trustee Iden offered to help him on both his IPad and home computer; but the offer appeared to fall on deaf ears.

Once the Village has the opportunity and finances to upgrade the hardware and software all board members and staff will be asked for their opinion and input. At this time I felt there was not a strong enough argument to spend additional staff time trying to fix something that was not necessarily broken.

I do have to admit that Trustee Serwatka was correct on one point.

During the last board meeting I made a motion to pull Catherine Peterson’s bonus off the bill list because she refused it. I should have simply noted that she refused the bonus and that no other further action was needed.

However I did make a mistake in how I handled that situation.

I made a motion to pull her bonus off the bill list for the evening. Her bonus was not on the bill list that night. It was a budget item that simply would never have been dispersed.  There was no need to make any motion on it.

None of the other board members caught my mistake that night and all voted on the motion; including Trustee Serwatka . I am not perfect and I did publicly apologize for making that mistake. Trustee Serwatka was not accepting of that and actually accused me of fabricating facts and trying to hide things from the public.

None of us is perfect and those who know me can attest to my integrity and honesty.

I make decisions that may be unpopular with some residents but my intent is to try and govern with the best of intentions for the entire village.

I stand behind every decision I make and if anyone wants  to know why I made that decision they are welcome to call, email or visit me.

I have a vested interest in Lakewood; I pay property taxes like most of you.

My decisions affect me personally as well as professionally. Please call me on my cell anytime at 847-910-2985


Trustee Ken Santowski Tells of Lakewood Meeting — 54 Comments

  1. I have no idea what is going on in Lakewood.

    Does anyone?

    In my 14 years of living here I always thought things were on the up and up but now I really have to wonder what is going on.

    I do not agree with Ken Santowski’s explanation of things as he states them here.

    People here in Lakewood have had enough and while I am sure the current group of people serving on the board have good intentions good intentions are not enough.

    We need new people in office who will bring up the issues that are plaguing our Village, County and State.

    Mr. Serwatka I signed your petition.

    My husband and I did.

    I am so thankful for all that you do.

    You are the one person, I will not say politician, who everyone can agree is truly representing us on the board.

    I do not agree with everything you do Mr. Serwatka but I think you have a great heart and I do not feel like after meeting you several times that you are making this stuff up.

    You are not alone Paul – the silent majority are behind you.

  2. Thank you for the information.

    Please continue to send your reports.

  3. Let’s hear the plan for Lakewood to honor contractual obligation to pay Woodstock D200 $9000 each (annually) for all the students in Lakewood TIF District (all the TIF revenues go to Lakewood, but all the students and expenses become Woodstock taxpayers’ obligation).

    Lakewood has one of the lowest Illinois Affordable Housing Act compliance rates of any Illinois suburb, and in 2015 passed a resolution to site low-income housing in the TIF District.

    Low income housing and other development in the 600 acre TIF may predictably produce hundreds of new students subject to the terms of D200 reimbursement contract.

    With PTELL limiting the amount Lakewood can raise its levy when the time comes to honor that contract,how will enough money be collected from Lakewood taxpayers to fund the education costs of Lakewood TIF students?

    What is Lakewood’s plan to pay its own way for its lucrative TIF District which it placed into annexed golf courses and cornfields within the Woodstock D200 school district?

    (Dissolving the TIF would be an acceptable answer. Detachment/Annexation of the Lakewood TIF District into the Crystal Lake school districts which all Lakewood children attend and which receive all Lakewood property tax dollars would also be an acceptable answer).

  4. The pdf agenda packets posted on the the Village of Lakewood website are not searchable.

    Thus, one cannot load the pdf and do a find / search.

    One must first optimize the pdf.

    But even then, some sections (depending on the packet) have renderable text that cannot be recognized / optimized / made searchable with the Adobe tool, without first printing or scanning the document to a pdf.

    So if the village wants to be taxpayer friendly, the agenda packet should be made searchable before posting on the village website.

    That is not a technically challenging task.

    Any secretary can be trained to do so.


    Transparency 101 for taxing districts is searchable agenda packets.

  5. Mark – Thank you for addressing the fact that these board packets are in fact scanned images, which makes them unsearchable – as opposed to being simple PDF text files, which allows these packets to be searched.

    And I am glad you understand and state that

    “Transparency 101 for taxing districts is searchable packets”

    Blocking the use of the SEARCH function in these packets is, exactly, my complaint – and has been my repeated complaint for nearly a year – while I continue to be told “staff is working on it.” “We’re dealing with some issues.” “Give us time.”

    Trustee Santowski, in this meeting, went so far as to say he prefers the packets be left the way they are.

    Not only is it more laborious and more time-consuming for staff to print and scan these documents to create scanned PDF images, but, in doing so, it negates our ability, as trustees, (and even the public for that matter) to SEARCH for specific terms or topics.

    Causing these packets to be unsearchable is simply antithetical to transparency!

    One of the wonders of PDF is the ability to use the “SEARCH” function.

    If we want to search through a 200-plus page board packet for specific information – particularly, if we are looking for information from a past packet but aren’t able to recall exactly which packet, this SEARCH function takes the proverbial “needle from the hay-stack” and places it right in our hand, saving countless hours of exhaustive reading and searching – and greatly promoting transparency!

    In the meantime, while we have a village staff that claims (by their own words) not to be capable of the basic computer skills required to create a PDF text document, we have 5 other trustees and a Village President, who continue, year-after-year, to grant these very staff members exorbitant pay raises and bonuses (although sometimes granted secretly as we have recently come to learn) that make their superior-skilled counter-parts in the private sector beyond envious.

    In reference to the statement by Trustee Santowski, saying: these board packets are “the same information that is available to the public.”

    I might also call attention to the fact that, prior to my election to this board of trustees, these board packets were NOT available to the public.

    Upon my taking office in May 2015, I, very similarly to this matter, requested that board packets be made available to the public, online.

    To this, I was told “staff will look into it.”

    I, then, began distributing board packets to residents via email and was subsequently asked by our village president to stop.

    I continued to distribute board packets to residents and informed both President Smith and staff that I would continue to do so until the packets were made available to the public online.

    Then, in July 2015, staff began making the packets available online.

    That was one (forced) step toward transparency!

    I can’t help but think that staff could also find its way to acquire the skills/abilities to provide a simple, searchable PDF text file, rather than the more time-consuming, more complex, non-searchable PDF scanned image they are currently providing.

    Of course that would only be possible if trustee Santowski and other board members didn’t specifically request (as they did in this meeting) that the packets be left as they are…

  6. Paul ,you are one person but are doing the right thing,i was at this meeting and I wish more residents would show up just to see this boards behavior!!

    The guy that wants to put the pool in and has got approved and then the village changes there mind!

    This is B.S.As the first post says the silent majority is behind you but I hope they don’t stay silent.

    Show up at these meetings people!!

  7. Thank you Ken Santowski for your update.

    You are a person who people trust and like, yes the public does know you are a man of honor and integrity.

    I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for you and then other trustees to constantly put up with crazy accusations and conspiracy theories.

    Most people see the craziness for what it is and shake their heads in disbelief.

    By the all my years of working with IPADs I have never known an IPAD battery to ‘go bad’, and noticed this was not disputed in the comments above.

    I mean really, all you have to do is plug it in!!

    Wonder what that is really all about with being able to use an IPAD??

  8. Ah, drama at the Village Board.

    This is nothing new.

    With the leadership, or lack thereof, in place, it is not surprising for issues like this to constantly pop up.

    If Lakewood had a strong Village President and not one who consistently puts the good of herself and her cronies before the good of the community, we would not see the petty backbiting situations pop up all the time.

    Now without President, no sorry, Village Manager Peterson around it will only get worse.

    I appreciate the efforts of Trustee Santowski, he is a person of integrity, but he and his colleagues, including Trustee Serwatka, need to find solutions not excuses to these issues.

    And the staff needs to be capable to supporting the needs of the Board and citizens by getting into the real world and the constant changes in technology.

    The Trustees need to set the tone, Smith will not.

  9. This has nothing to do with Mr. Serwatka, other than he is drawing attention to the lack of transparency issue due to board packets not being fully searchable.

    This has everything to do with Lakewood being technically incompetent (hard to believe) or intentionally not making board packets searchable.

    But this is far from unusual by local governments.

    CHSD 155 (Crystal Lake High School District 155) does not even post a board packet.

    That’s even more egregious than Lakewood.

    Neither is acceptable.

  10. So, rather than be inconvenienced by having to print and actually read a document, the taxpayers should pay for staff time to change the delivery of a program so that you ca n micro management in a vacuum even more.

    There is no pleasing you people.

    Print it out.

    Read, highlight, start a fire- do whatever you want but stop acting like this is being done intentionally.

  11. Inish, on the contrary, I work pretty extensively with pdf’s and anyone who does understands that it is much LESS work and much LESS time consuming to simply clcik on “SAVE AS PDF” which will yield a searchable pdf, than it is to print, scan and resave as an image as this staff appears to be doing.

    This is quite intentional and serves no purpose that I can think of other than to remove searchability.

  12. You are assuming that all of the documents are soft copies created by the staff- anything that is being compiled is likely scanned to put into a large PDf file.

    Explain to me why this couldn’t be a civil conversation with the staff before the meeting rather than a talking point during the meeting?

    He didn’t even have his IPad charged- whose fault is this?

  13. It seems Mr. Serwatka has been asking for searchable board agenda packets for a long time and has been getting blocked.

    It’s not difficult to create searchable board agenda packets, even from what the village has on its website as a non searchable agenda packet.

    He’s simply being blocked for no good reason.

  14. A charged ipad is not going to convert a non searchable agenda packet, to a searchable agenda packet.

    The taxpayers also should have a searchable agenda packet.

    All the board members should want a searchable agenda packet.

  15. I too am concerned about transparency with the village.

    The TIF, money paid for architectural renderings of the restaurant, bonuses under the radar for employees doing their jobs (for which they are already paid enormous salaries) etc.

    And most recently, the idea of not hiring the two police officer positions that are now vacant and putting those salaries towards a new village hall!

    I’d say that rather than a new million-dollar office, let’s update our software so there is transparency for everyone.

    I would encourage all residents to attend these meetings. Serwatka is fighting by himself on many of these issues…and he shouldn’t have to because he’s fighting for us!

  16. I’m **SHOCKED** that Serwatka would exhibit rude and boorish behavior.


    Just kidding.

    Not shocked at all.

  17. …and AMEN to the comments above that Mark has made.

    With all of the homes in this village, these meetings should be packed every time!

  18. Mr. Serwatka has been persistent in asking for searchable board agenda packets.

    There were no online board agenda packets, searchable or otherwise, before he requested them.

    Now there are online board agenda packets available to the taxpayers.

    That’s a transparency victory for taxpayers.

    He is continuing to persist for searchable board agenda packets, as he should.

    That’s Transparency 101.

    Taxpayers allow too many taxing districts to not post searchable board agenda packets.

  19. Let me be clear – I support more transparency, and I support searchable PDFs.

    And I think its absurd if Lakewood staff are creating the documents that they cannot save as PDFs.

    But that still doesn’t justify unprofessional, rude, and boorish behavior.

  20. I am disheartened to hear about all of this squabbling and nit picking.

    It would be so much more productive to put personalities aside and decide to work together for the common good of the village.

    I can’t speak to Trustee Serwatka’s integrity, but am confident in Trustee Santowski’s honesty and dedication to the village.

    I have not ever known anyone more fiscally responsible, hard working and generous.

    I have always known him willing to work through problems in order to arrive at the best possible solution, whatever it takes.

    I do hope all involved with the governing of Lakewood would please be open-minded and listen to each other and remember you are on the same team.


  21. The documents in question are pdf’s, they are just not searchable.

    If Santaowski is getting snowballed or bamboozled then he needs to do his due diligence and get some outside opinions.

    There is not a good reason to have unsearchable board agenda packet pdf’s.

    This is a huge problem all over the state, not only with board agenda packet pdf’s but also collective bargaining agreements, AFR’s, and other documents.

  22. The same Santowski that owns an electronics recycling company, is a board member for the Defenders and thinks government should subsidize his recycling business?

    Isn’t that what he’s doing, trying to hold governments hostage for tax dollars?

    I wouldn’t trust this guy, no matter how nice of a front he puts forward.

    “Santowski, a Lakewood trustee, also runs a private electronics recycling drive for the benefit of residents, but he recently put a temporary hold on collections when he was overwhelmed with waste from out-of-towners rather than the few Lakewood residents he expected to use the service. Representatives from the city of Woodstock had directed Woodstock residents to use the collection in Lakewood.”

  23. Quite Frankly the Village of Lakewood, and any other government body, who says it takes months to figure out how to make a document a searchable PDF just doesn’t want to be transparent.

    I wonder what the salaries of the staff are that are getting paid to produce these documents.

    You need to cross that bridge into the 21st century.

    In Microsoft Word

    #1 Click the Microsoft Office Button , point to the arrow next to Save As, and then click PDF or XPS.

    #2 In the File Name list, type or select a name for the document.

    #3 In the Save as type list, click PDF.

    #4 If you want to open the file immediately after saving it, select the Open file after publishing check box.

    If these steps are too complex here is a simple youtube video that shows you how to do it.

    Finally, it has become very apparent to me that there are many officials in local government who do not want to be transparent Dave Lowitzki.

    Sometimes you have to stand up and be persistant.

    Sadly, when you do this people who are not used to being challenged take your persistance as “unprofessional, rude, and boorish behavior.”

    After reading this if there is anyone in local government who needs some training in saving documents as searchable PDFs feel free to give me a call at (850)866-0155 or shoot me an email and I will happily walk you through it.

    Andrew Gasser

  24. **Sometimes you have to stand up and be persistant [sic]. Sadly, when you do this people who are not used to being challenged take your persistance [sic] as “unprofessional, rude, and boorish behavior.”

    There is a difference between being persistent and being a jerk.

  25. Lakewood is the ones being jerks for blocking him, and due to the nature of his request, Lakewood has been blocking not only Paul but the taxpayers, for a long time, for no good reason.

    If Lakewood would have complied with his reasonable request to supply searchable pdf board agenda packets he wouldn’t have a reason to get upset.

    Now maybe he didn’t phrase it exactly like that, but it’s not difficult to figure out what he wants.

    Sometimes people lose their temper and patience, and while not ideal, he shouldn’t be vilified for that, when the reason he lost his temper was due to him being blocked.

    This same game of not posting searchable pdf board agenda packets happens all over the state.

    Posting searchable pdf board agenda packets is not just a matter of pleasing Paul Serwatka.

    It’s a matter of providing basic transparency to taxpayers.


    Crystal Lake High School District 155 does not even post board agenda packets, much less searchable board agenda packets.

    That’s even more egregious, as their IT staff is larger than Lakewood’s.

    It should be a school board campaign issue for the April 4, 2017 school board elections in the Consolidated General Election.

  26. The Lakewood August 9, 2016 Agenda Packet is 173 pages. > Government > Agenda & Minutes > 2016 Agenda & Packet Materials > 2016-08-09 Board Packet

    Page 69 of the pdf is one of many pages that contains renderable text and is titled, “General Fund Financial Statements for the period May 1, 2016 – May 31, 2016.”

    Renderable text cannot be searched.

    So immediately a few questions come to mind.

    What is the name of the computer application which produced that document?

    Did that computer application output the document in renderable text?

    If so, is there an option to output the document in normal searchable text?

    If not, how and why was the document changed to renderable text?

    If for some strange reason the document could only be outputted as renderable text, why didn’t the village print the page, scan it, optimize it to make it searchable, and replace the non searchable renderable text page with the searchable page?

  27. So let’s list the steps to convert a printed page to searchable pdf.

    One can then see the amount of effort it would take the village to perform the task.

    Each scanner works differently.

    Here’s how one scanner works.

    1. Place the printed page on the the scanner (or insert multiple pages into the feeder).

    2. Press Scan.

    3. Press Scan to PC.

    4. Select File (not image, OCR, or email).

    5. Select one sided.

    6. Select the computer (not USB).

    7. Select Start Scan.

    8. Press Start.

    9. Locate the file on the computer

    10. Open the file.

    11. In Adobe Creative Cloud (costs $15 a month or so), select Tools, Enhance Scans, Recognize Text, In this file, Recognize Text.

    12. Now that pdf page is searchable.

    (to be continued)

  28. (continued)

    13. close the new searchable pdf page (in other words, close the file).

    14. Open the original document.

    15. select Tools.

    16. select Enhance Scan.

    (to be continued)

  29. 17. select Insert.

    18. select From File (From Scanner is also an option).

    19. locate the directory and file name.

    20. choose the page number, after which you want this page to be located, and click OK.

    21. delete the non searchable renderable text page.


    (to be continued)

  30. Here is a recap.

    The page from the board agenda packet containing renderable text (renderable text cannot be searched) was printed, scanned to a file, converted to searchable text, inserted into the board agenda packet, and the page containing renderable text was deleted.

    A few notes.

    The board agenda packet on the village website is in pdf format.

    Typically in a pdf document, one can click “edit” and then “find” and then search on a keyword.

    However, some pdf’s contain data that cannot be found / searched.

    Two examples are image data and renderable text.

    In most cases, the image data and renderable text could have been originally saved to a searchable format, or can be converted to a searchable format.

  31. As for recycling, a lot of recyclers and garbage disposal companies now charge to recycle or dispose of some items such as the old school TV’s.

    It can be difficult to find recyclers for various items.

    The profit margin varies on the material being recycled.

    There have been instances where people drop off garbage at a recycle drop off, so the drop off closes.

    And once the word gets out of someone offering recycling of a particular item(s) for which it is difficult to find a disposal facility, the facility can get overwhelmed due to unanticipated demand.

  32. Ken Santowski is an upstanding individual. Any suggestion otherwise is unnecessary rhetoric.

  33. Dear Leeeery,

    For the record, Mr. Santowski does not own a recycling business, he co-owns a trucking company. He organized the Lakewood electronics drop off as a service to his fellow residents because there was a need not being met. He freely gives of his time and consistently looses money donating services to provide outlets for residents to properly dispose of unwanted electronics because all of the collectors who were only in it for the money closed their doors and scurried away once it was not profitable.
    I am a fellow volunteer and have given many hours of sweat, blood and tears trying to do the right thing (for zero money) for residents of the county, including the Village of Lakewood (where I don’t even live). My efforts pale in comparison to Mr. Santowski’s. I know it is very hard to believe, in a country driven by greed, profit and dishonesty, that someone would do something just because it is the right thing to do…but there ARE still people like that, and the Village of Lakewood doesn’t realize how fortunate they are to have one of those people serving them on their board.

    So please do not defame someone’s motives and character, especially when you don’t know all of the facts. Instead, pick up the phone and call Mr. Santowski, as he offered. Ask questions and learn the actual facts. If you knew them, I am certain your attitude would be different.

  34. I think that if you all believe this is so easy- you should volunteer your time to go forth and do it.
    I hear the word transparency thrown around on this blog, but it often means idle curiosity. Elected officials are elected to represent the constituents- it makes it a defensive posture when they have to worry that every move will be scrutinized, often out of context and often criticized with little concern for the facts. These FOIAs and this constant badgering costs money and redeploys resources to things that are not productive. Go to the meetings. You will quickly follow what is going on and when questions come up- address them- but to spend the bulk of a meeting in a personal fight with staff is just UNPRODUCTIVE ANS UNPROFESSIONAL. There is No defense for this. Paul could have handled this off line. Paul could have come to the meeting prepared with the tool provided charged. Explain to me the benefit of a searchable PDF versus reading your packet and being a fully informed board member. The requests really just supports the idea that he is on a witch hunt.

  35. There is no excuse for governments to not have searchable board packets, searchable collective bargaining agreements, searchable annual financial reports, and other searchable documents on its website.

    Ken Santowski should know that.

    Inish should know that.

    Anyone who believes in transparent government should know that.

    There should be a state law requiring such.

    This is about Lakewood not being transparent, and Serwatka being blocked in his transparency request.

  36. Explain the benefit of a searchable document.

    You can’t be serious.

    That is like asking, explain the benefit of a Google search.

    It’s just that searching a document for information would obviously be on a smaller scale.

    Searching allows one to find information.

    Name one person that deals with documents who does not want the ability to search the document for specific information.


  37. It’s my understanding that one reason to produce the documents as they are is to lessen the chance that they could be falsely manipulated edited and/or modified for nefarious purposes.

    It is a reasonable practice for a government entity.

  38. That’s a ruse.

    Plenty of units of government, Federal, State, and Local, produce searchable documents.

    The unit of government can keep an original in image or renderable text if they so choose.

    Let me tell a story.

    That argument was once used to me by a District Superintendent, regarding a non searchable document on the district website.

    I did a Google search, and found a searchable copy of the document on the district website, that was not available for public viewing.

    It’s a BS ruse of an excuse.

    Don’t fall for it.

  39. I don’t like agreeing with Mark, but he’s right on this one.

    There really is no excuse.

    Transparency matters, and this is an extremely easy way to be more transparent, both with the board and with the public.

    But I still think that there is a difference between being persistent and being a jerk.

    And its not surprising that some folks around here don’t understand that.

    Serwatka is right on the issue.

    He’s totally wrong on the approach.

  40. His approach is getting it DONE!

    This approach is what it takes to wake everyone up!!

  41. Alabama – Perhaps Ken Santowski is greatly distorting the actual course of events in a futile effort to protect himself from having his improprieties come back to bite him.

    This is not first of Ken’s improper behavior!

    And I do mean absolutely improper!

    In the meantime, are we really to believe this sort of “if you continue to say NO, I will continue to ask again” approach you are suggesting will ever yield results??

    Serwatka has been at it for a year, already!!

    I say it’s time to”take off the kid gloves” and start fighting these guys!

    And we all know Serwatka is not afraid to fight!

  42. Let me re-state…

    Ken Santowski IS ABSOLUTELY DISTORTING the course of events!

    I was there!

    And I was appalled!

    At everyone board member EXCEPT Serwatka!

  43. That is exactly what MCC President Vicky Smith said in defending posting documents from which parts, e.g., agenda items, could not be copied and posted on this blog.

    I thought her logic was flawed.

  44. Even if the document or parts of it is in a format, such as image or renderable text, the document can be printed, then scanned, then optimized in Adobe Document Cloud or another product, at which point it can be searched or edited.

    As described above.

    At which point it can be falsely manipulated, edited, and / or modified for nefarious purposes.

    And once again the government unit can have a searchable copy on its website for the public, and an original copy in image and / or renderable text format stored inhouse not for public viewing, if they are concerned someone with nefarious intentions will modify the document.

    People in the government unit often want and typically have search capabilities to locate information in the document, and the ability to cut and pate information to produce a report or email.

    So they may have such a searchable copy for internal use that is not on the website accessible to the public, but an image only / non searchable copy on the website accessible to the public.

    Collective bargaing agreements are a good example.

    This game has gone on far too long and it is time for taxpayers to recognize the game, call out such instances, demand documents that can be searched and allow copy and paste, and thus stand up for their transparency rights.

  45. Inish, every move SHOULD BE scrutinized!

    This isn’t a witch hunt…and it wasn’t a personal fight.

    It’s questioning why the village isn’t easily and willingly showing everything that’s going on.

    This isn’t pulling anyone’s pants down…this is information that should be readily available!

    Trustee Serwatka DID try to handle this off line…repeatedly…for many months…and was continually put off.

    So it begs the question of why?

    How long do you do this dance?

    It’s time for the kid-gloves to come off and to stop playing nicely.

    This board answers to the residents so bringing this up in front of the residents after trying the polite route is the appropriate next step.

    Quickly and willingly putting all this information into searchable PDFs eliminates the smell of impropriety.

    So why are the other board members opposed to this???

    It does make me wonder what they don’t want someone to find???

  46. …and if there were 100+ residents at EVERY meeting to watch, listen, ask questions and demand action (instead of just Paul) I’d bet money that this board would conduct matters differently.

    EVERY meeting!!!

  47. Another question, Mark, because you seem to know an awful lot about this.

    (And I’m not on one side or another, I just hate to see people maligned when feelings start getting hot. I don’t think anyone deserves that.)

    Could you tell me how much extra staff time would be involved in quickly and easily putting all of the documents into searchable PDFs twice a month?

    After all, the goal is less government, right?

    And I’m curious (you might not want to say), what is your relationship to Mr. Serwatka?

    You seem almost to be his spokesperson.

  48. Mary,

    Mark is the research and data guru of McHenry County!

    You can look on almost any story on this blog and there will be Mark posting enough facts and figures to make any lawyer or CPA’s head spin!

  49. Mary,

    In this case it took 4 minutes 5 seconds to convert the August 9, 2016 Lakewood board packet to a searchable file.

    The details follow.

    The board packet from August 9, 2016 is located at > Government > Agendas & Minutes > 2016 Agenda & Packet Materials > 2016-08-09 Board Packet.

    Download the file.

    The following steps assume Adobe Acrobat DC is being utilized.

    Once downloaded, double click on the file to open it.

    The product used to complete the task, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, is available for a 1 year subscription at $16 per month (the lower right hand corner of the product states, “your current plan is Creative Cloud.”)

    Once the file is open in Acrobat Pro DC, click Tools > Enhance Scans > Recognize Text > In This File > Recognize Text.

    Start a stopwatch (free computer stopwatches are available via a Google search).

    Now, we are going to sit and watch the product cycle from page to page to know when to stop the stopwatch.

    However, after the person is trained, once the product starts recognizing text, they would perform another task, as it is unnecessary and a waste of time, not to mention boring, watching the product cycle from page to page recognizing text.

    The recognize text features stops at the 2 minute 43 second mark at page 69, displaying the following message.

    “Acrobat could not perform Text Recognition on this page because: This page contains renderable text.”

    Following that, a check box is displayed, “Ignore future errors in this document.”

    Click “Ignore future errors in this document.”

    The Recognize Text function completes at 4 minutes 5 seconds.

    That is a 4 minute 5 second run time from start to finish.

    Interestingly, the renderable text is searchable and allows copy and paste.

    That is not always the case.

    So we are done.

    We just converted the Lakewood board packet from mostly non searchable to searchable in 4 minutes 5 seconds.


    If the renderable text was not searchable, then additional time would be necessary.

    How much additional time?

    Depends on the number of pages of renderable text and the method used to convert the renderable text to searchable text.


    I have never met, spoken to, emailed, texted, sent mail to, or faxed Paul Serwatka.

    On the blog, Mr. Skinner typically puts keywords at the end of the article, such as “Paul Serwatka.”

    One can click on “Paul Serwatka” and look through the comments to see what I have said in articles containing Paul Serwatka.


    To me this is primarily about Lakewood not being transparent, it’s not about Paul Serwatka.

    Paul Serwatka is the squeaky wheel calling attention to the fact board packets are not searchable.


    Long time readers of this blog will tell you I have commented many times about transparency across a broad range of government units, politicians, & political parties.

  50. Lakewood’s July 12, 2016 board packet took 6 minutes 21 seconds to convert from non searchable to searchable.

    Using the process described in the above post.

    No renderable text.

  51. Lakewood’s June 14, 2016 board packet took 5 minutes 10 seconds to convert from a non searchable pdf to a searchable pdf.

    The Adobe Acrobat DC product was used to perform the task.

    The exact steps once the document was loaded in the product (which takes about 1 second) were: Tools > Enhance Scans > Recognize Text > In This File > Recognize Text (that’s not a typo, the words Recognize Text appear a 2nd time in the line below the first Recognize Text).

    There was no renderable text in the document.

    A searchable pdf is when a document in Adobe Acrobat pdf format can be searched.

    In the case of the Adobe Acrobat DC software product, that is done by pulling down the “Edit” menu, selecting “Find”, and entering the desired search word(s).

  52. It took 3 minutes 52 seconds to convert the Village of Lakewood’s May 24, 2016 board packet from non searchable pdf to searchable pdf.

    It was a 66 page board packet, the smallest of those converted up to this point.

  53. It took 3 minutes 11 seconds to convert the Village of Lakewood’s May 10, 2016 board packet from non searchable pdf to searchable pdf.

    It was a 76 page board packet.

    One might wonder, why did it take less time to convert a larger file.

    There are all sorts of variables depending on the exact data being converted.

    That’s 5 board packets covering 5 board meetings that have now been converted.

    Here are the results consolidated to one location, with the date being the date of the Lake Village Board meeting:

    August 9, 2016 – 4 minutes 5 seconds
    July 12, 2016 – 6 minutes 21 seconds
    June 14, 2016 – 5 minutes, 10 seconds
    May 24, 2016 – 3 minutes, 52 seconds
    May 10, 2016 – 3 minutes, 11 seconds

    Total – 21 minutes, 99 seconds.

    Which is 22 minutes, 39 seconds.

    If we round up, that’s less than 5 minutes per file.

    5 meetings seems to be a sufficient sample size.

    It does not take that much time to convert the files to searchable pdf.

    If there is non searchable renderable text in a file, that would add to the conversion time.

    That has not been the case for these files.

    The only renderable text was in the August 9, 2016 file, which turned out to be searchable.

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