Phil Stephan’s Last Lakewood Meeting Critiqued by Incoming Trustee Tricia Babischkin

Written by Tricia Babischkin in the publication “United Lakewood“:

Special Board Meeting: The Rest of the Story

So much was wrong with the board meeting last night, but at the core of it all is that this board meeting is what happens

  • when you refuse to listen to the residents
  • when you completely lack self-awareness and any ounce of humility
  • when you think that blind praise will solidify your legacy while you do the exact things that are destroying it.

I realize this is a harsh condemnation of the current board — four of which will soon be gone — but it is the way I see this.

Before I begin:

I don’t know Janet Barron. I know one of the U4L team has reached out to her to congratulate her with no response. During the last election, I was a bit busy; but I would peak at her work to get the incumbents re-elected in Lake Zurich. Their campaign was successful — though the margins and turnout were much smaller than Lakewood and without knowing the issues they faced, I truly can not comment on it.

I know she had some interactions with the Village of Lakewood’s News & Politics site until she decided to leave — I can’t say all her interactions were positive. But what I know is that she appears to have some knowledge of local government and a willingness to get involved.

I am looking forward to getting to know her better and would hope she is looking forward to working with the team too. I also hope that the endorsement of the re-elected President of Lake Zurich is accurate that she has a willingness to listen to all sides — because I think that is absolutely critical in the role of Trustee. (Yes, even mine — as I am willing to listen to all sides; but I highly suggest that those sides bring all the facts to the table.)

  1. Now, let’s clear up a few key facts that were left out of last night’s farce of a board meeting:During the Budget ‘Workshop’, our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer, stated that the impact fees had been waived the past two years (truth) and would not be waived this coming year and she budgeted 13 new homes. This is untrue — the impact fee waiver for TWO (and only TWO) developers are waived for all of FY ’22 and about half of FY ’23 based on the ordinance passed in late summer last year. These TWO developers also happen to be contributors to the Re-Elect Phil Campaign, per his Campaign Disclosure. I wonder if once she realizes that the impact fees are likely waived, if we will see a difference in the budget for the hearing. [Emphasis added.]

2. Property Sales: There’s been some village emails that have gone out from the CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer and the Board (both incoming and current) regarding my questions on these pieces of properties. Essentially there are a few claims

2a First, the board approved the properties to be re-appraised. Actually, per the board meeting, the board asked to have the remaining properties, not currently for sale, on RedTail appraised so they could go up for sale. It was the CAO, from what I can tell from an email, who decided to add the re-appraisal of TWO of the THREE unsold of the lots still available (these would be Lots 16 & 17).

2b. Second, despite having these new appraisals from the middle of March (3/11 to be exact), the website was never updated — the public was never made aware of the change in price. So, you expect the public to believe that a developer just happened to guess there was a new appraisal on the property and offered something VERY close to 80% of the new (unpublished) appraisal? Would it shock anyone to learn that this same person owns other land in the village and that land had Re-Elect Phil signs on it during the election?

2c. Third, Lot 11 was NOT re-appraised. I asked our CAO why that wasn’t included when she decided to have the other lots appraised — her response, “I don’t recall offhand, I’ll have to get back to you.” Funny — you single out ONE lot to be excluded and you can’t recall why? Is it at all possible that you (or Phil) had talked to the developer (who had been involved in the purchase of some other recent lot sales) and they mentioned a desire for these two lots, but wanted a lower price or even a confirmation on the appraisal?

3. Finally, the large bonuses for Kenny and Jim at RedTail. I take no issue with bonuses being given (they total 10% of the total income planned from the budget amendment of RedTail in FY ’21) — they and the entire staff at RedTail worked hard last year in the midst of a global pandemic. But let’s all agree on a few real facts:

3a. RedTail was not a burden on the village until Phil took office. In fact, it was profitable for the years prior to Phil taking office.

3b. Over the two of four years that Phil has been in public service, Redtail has sustained a 6 figure loss in income and the final year — while yes, should likely be profitable, the numbers aren’t firm as to HOW profitable.

3c. In the meeting, there was talk of the number of rounds — per National Golf Foundation (NGF — a publication on the golfing industry), 2020 rounds were up nationally 14% due directly to the pandemic — mostly in the working from home golfer sector, who now has more time to golf during the weekday. As of December in round counts, we were up 22% — or about 8% above the national average. What is important here is that the largest gains were in our unseasonably warm early winter — people were golfing well into December and in fact, we had a more than doubling of our rounds in November and December over the pre-COVID averages. We may never be able to parse out the effect of COVID, great weather late into the season, and the warm personalities of both Kenny and Jim had on the 2020/21 season — but yes, all three had a positive affect. Here’s a chart I found handy to make showing the rounds:

But let’s get to the real question:

So, how do we end this farce and get truth and professionalism in governing?

Well, the first step is over — the election is done and there was a mandate for change.

But it appears the outgoing board refuses to work with the incoming board on the transition and is truthfully making everything more difficult than it needs to be.

Jeannine Smith and Phil Stephan

Right after the results of the election were announced, Our CAO and President-elect sat down and she informed Dave that Phil “had no intention of running the meeting on April 27th.”

This is the day after the certified results will be in and should be the date we are sworn into office.

As the incoming board, who believes strongly in a hybrid meeting solution, we began to use that date to work toward a plan for that meeting.

We have been offered resident donations to secure a location of suitable size for an expected large in person turnout (and the ability for our families to share in person during our swearing in) and confirmed its availability.

We secured a judge to do the swearing in portion.

As of this post, we have multiple people holding and waiting on finalization of plans — all because of one person who will not acknowledge any communication to discuss this.

In case you are curious, the plan we put into motion is that the meeting will be held in person at the Raue Center for the Performing Arts.

Raue Center for the Arts

This theater can hold 150 audience members plus the entire 10 people (board plus, lawyer, CAO, and clerk) required to be there for the meeting in. socially distanced fashion.

We even got the building for the public hearing of the budget too.

Additionally, we have worked with their technology people to confirm a Zoom option for viewing this meeting remotely. This was done at ZERO cost to the village.

All we have asked for is confirmation from Phil that his intention is still the same and that we can finalize these plans.

The incoming board has heard crickets.

Phil has NOT ONCE reached out to Dave to either congratulate him nor discuss a transition. Despite the contention between Paul and Erin (please note — Paul had been highly critical of Erin for YEARS prior to his election to president and her prior decision to term-limit herself), post the election (despite the all the negativity directed at her from her successor), Erin showed grace and honor that during a board meeting she attempted to have a public transfer of knowledge to help the soon to be seated board — we saw last night a Phil that appears to refuse even to believe he’s leaving his presidency.

Lakewood needs to heal from this past election.

The attitude and actions of the current president and his self-appointed mouthpiece need to end and they need to end sooner rather than later.

This village spoke up with a single and resounding voice for what they want and if you had any doubt who Phil and his cronies work for — it’s obvious it’s not you — it’s his own self-serving interests.

Here’s the irony of it all — Phil, whose ego seems to be what motivates him to self-congratulate, is actually destroying his own legacy with these final moves and refusal to move forward.

I was actually shocked that when Doug UIrich resigned, Phil didn’t attempt to figure out a way that he could appoint himself to Doug’s seat to be able to be on the board for 2 more years.

If Phil had an ounce of self-awareness, if he had anyone telling him the truth about the way his actions (and his half-truths) are seen, he’d realize that these final acts are truly hurting his reputation, not helping.

There is absolutely no honor in his recent actions — and I realize few are shocked by it — but I admit, I really thought when he saw the results — realized that the movement isn’t a small bunch of loud mouths on Facebook, he’d dig deep to try to save a tidbit of self-respect.

I admit, I was completely wrong in thinking Phil would ever do the right thing.

The population of Lakewood is 3,800, which includes children and unregistered voters.

Because not everyone in each of the districts votes in the Lakewood Village election, it is hard to get a true sense of Lakewood turnout — mostly because registered voters across the 5 major districts of the village exceeds our total population by about 1,000 people.

SO — let’s just use the total population for our math.

958 people cast a vote in the presidential race in Lakewood.

That’s 25% of our population!

766 of those votes were for Dave Stavropoulos.

That’s 20.2% of the TOTAL Lakewood population!

Turnout in Lakewood was unprecedented.

Votes for change was the definition of a mandate.

Yet the board continues to try to disparage my site, the active Facebook group, and the intelligence of the residents of Lakewood.

This would be funny, if this wasn’t OUR circus.

Phil Stephan

Phil stands as a failed leader and nothing is more clear than his continued denial that not only did he lose this election, he refuses to even be gracious in his loss and work with the incoming board for a smooth transition.

How can you help?

I highly suggest that you reach out to Phil and Village Hall and let them know what YOU want.

I know you told them in the ballot box — but it’s time they have to answer for their lack of integrity to step up and step away from our village and let your mandate be heard.

You, neighbors and friends, spoke out at the ballot box — let it be heard loud and clear that you expect Phil to do at least ONE honorable thing during his presidency — transition with grace.

Here’s their contact information:

Phil Stephan, Email: Phone: (815)459-3025

CAO: Jeannine Smith, Email: Phone: (815)459-3025

Or the board as a whole: Email:


Phil Stephan’s Last Lakewood Meeting Critiqued by Incoming Trustee Tricia Babischkin — 21 Comments

  1. Phil, concede the election.

    Help with the transition.

    Again, showing your true colors in refusing to acknowledge you lost.

    Show some dignity.

    Do whats best for the village and not your ego.

  2. The silver lining to the spiteful, childish behavior of Stephan and his minions is how it more than justifies the actions and criticism of Tricia Babischkin, Bryan Younge, Former Chief Richardson, Amy Odom, and the cadre of others that didn’t back down.

    The future of the Village would have been in question if these asshats retained power.

  3. Trish – Just take a step back and look at your words.

    Whether right or wrong, you have berated Phil over and over agin over the last months.

    You might even be right in your thoughts.

    Not relevant to my point though.

    You have no hope of Phil nicely communicating with you when even after this last meeting you couldn’t resist the urge to bash him one last time.

    You won fair and square.

    There is also something to be said for being a gracious winner.

    Instead, you continue to publicly ridicule these people you clearly dislike.

    Again, there are some valid reasons for your comments, but you are choosing the low road in this.

    Get sworn in and do your duty.

    I wish you well. \\Focus on your duty and stop focusing on Phil.

  4. We heard from public works and RedTail on their budget and what they would like added to their Dept.

    i think a Dept. Was left out…

    What about the Police Dept budget or do they just go another year without anything?????

    Because there is no money.. 🤔

    So no new vehicles, tires, Maintenance, body cameras, training, etc.

  5. Let’s face it, it is not Chicago, you don’t need fancy squads or body cameras just to drive to Trustee generated calls.

    Collect that paycheck, insurance, pension (if you don’t already have one) and just handle your calls for service.

    Mostly crashes I am sure.

  6. Safe squad cars would be nice.

    No bald tires and working batteries that don’t need to be jump started before every shift would be good.

    This is a public safety issue.

    If you are going to run higher mileage vehicles, the budget for maintenance needs to go up.

    Simple math.

  7. Stormy D, there was a stabbing recently.

    It’s not as safe as you think.

  8. Jack be Nimble, I’m sorry that’s just bunk.

    You have an outgoing Village President that just rammed through a Trustee appointment a week before he’s gone, with no public comment.

    He has taken no steps…none…for a clean handoff, and you’re stance is…”Stop being mean to Phil?”

    If you read her blog, it’s not one of vindictiveness, but one that points out the extreme flaws in budget and procedure, as well as aberrant behavior.

    And to add to that list…they hand out $25k in bonuses to two golf guys, all while their cop cars are in dire need of maintenance?!?

    That’s just wrong.

  9. @Stormy D, since you alot about public safety. You then know that in 2022, ALL departments are required to have bodycams.

    So even Lakewood WILL need them.

    Who mentioned “fancy” squad cars.

    The department has squads with high miles, had unsafe illegal tires and radio batteries that didnt last an entire shift.

    The needs are basic equipment and maintenance.

    The issue is they have been defunded by the current cao and president.

  10. Ask yourselves how long has Trish actually lived in the village to be commenting on past presidents.

    As for no cost to the residents to use the Raue Center, wonder if Trish’s “romantic relationship” is a factor here.

  11. Brenda – If length of residency is a qualifier, why is Berman “investigating” the TIF?

  12. @Brenda, I believe the Raue is run by a Lakewood resident willing to help the village.

    Nice try though.

  13. I do not believe that length of residency has anything to do with being a good elective official in your town.

    But I wondered the same thing myself when I read some of her comments regarding the history of Serwatka and Erin Smith.

    One state Marathon particularly interesting was her referring to Aaron Smith previously term limiting herself.

    I’ve been following Crystal lake, Lakewood and McHenry County politics and government for many many years. The first I ever recall hearing of Erin Smith “term limiting herself” or not running for re-election as Village president was right here on this blog just about the same time it became public that Serwatka was circulating petitions for his candidacy.

    It was quite apparent to those who follow that her decision not to seek re-election was to save herself the public humiliation of the campaign and very probable loss.

    Not that any of this really matters but it really caused me to wonder who Ms babishkin is consulting with and getting information from.

    We can only hope she is not receiving counsel from the likes of Erin Smith.

  14. Hey Folks, Noah was considered a Conspiracy Theorist . . .until it rained.

    With that being said, you usually don’t see outgoing officials, leaving in a cloud of secrecy, unless there is something to hide?

    Maybe the residents should request a Forensic Audit of Lakewood’s Books?

  15. Trustee Babischkin – the fool has one great advantage over a man of sense, he is always satisfied with himself.

    Thanks for making us aware of the Purple Nurple’s self actualization.

  16. Played cards with Stephan in 2017, still have an iou for $75 from him.

    Will he ever pay?

  17. Joseph, yes, that’s correct. Her romantic relationship with a “lakewood resident”

  18. Yeah okay “Brenda”.

    Have investigator Berman look into it then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *