Are you missing your dog? Mary and Steve Uhrina have found and picked up a little white dog (like a poodle) near Big Bear and Indian Head Trail tonight. They have the dog with them, as the police will turn it over to the Humane Society if they take it. When they called the police, the officer stated that there had also been a report of this dog having been spotted in Acacia earlier. If this is your dog, or you know whose dog it might be, please call 630-240-3139.
In the Chicago Tribune today (May 20, 2014) there was an interesting commentary from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart describing his offer for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to suburban municipalities to act as an independent watchdog for their community, at NO EXPENSE TO THEM. Sounds like a win-win situation to me, especially considering some of the concerns our village has regarding its budget and fiscal responsibility. What do YOU think?
Text copied here:
You may not realize it, but when you leave Chicago, you’re doing more than just crossing a border.
That is because in many Chicago suburbs — and the majority of municipalities across Illinois — there are no independent watchdogs. Chicago — like the state, Cook County and the federal government — has its own independent inspector general empowered to independently investigate public officials and bring accountability to government.
The results speak for themselves. A 2012 University of Illinois at Chicago report showed the Chicago region to be the nation’s most politically corrupt for decades, with an average public corruption conviction rate of 51 government employees per year.
On Wednesday, the Tribune editorialized on the situation in Burnham, where the former village clerk has been charged with stealing more than $650,000 in taxpayer money. The Tribune asked a pointed question: “Who was watching in Burnham?” The answer? Tragically nobody.
But the alleged victimization of Burnham’s residents did not occur in a vacuum. Throughout Illinois, countless towns and villages have been mismanaged — many to the edge of bankruptcy. Some of the perpetrators have been caught and appropriately punished; others have emerged unscathed, with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
A year ago, the newly elected mayor of Dolton took office and inherited a village treasury teetering on the edge of insolvency with barely enough funds to pay Dolton’s police and firefighters.
When Dolton’s new mayor came to me for help, I offered him a strategy that seemed simple enough but turned out to be nothing short of unprecedented in a state where “transparency” is a dirty word. I became Dolton’s inspector general. I was allowed to investigate past instances of fraud and misconduct that destroyed the village’s economy, while providing a safe place for residents to submit tips regarding any ongoing corruption.
The response from the people of Dolton was so overwhelmingly positive that the concept took on a life of its own. After Dolton, five additional suburbs — Maywood, Country Club Hills, Richton Park, Crestwood and Steger — have adopted ordinances to bring in the Cook County Sheriff’s Office as an independent watchdog. In these towns, the sheriff’s office has the right to investigate any past or present allegations of fraud, waste, mismanagement and corruption. For the first time, these citizens have an independent agency looking out for them (to be fair, Dolton had an inspector general prior — it was the previous mayor’s brother).
I have since made identical offers to every municipality in Cook County. The investigations would come at no expense to municipal budgets.
I was elected with a broad mandate to protect the people of Cook County, regardless of where they live. Most local governments are run by dedicated and concerned officials needing no oversight. But when the people charged with upholding the laws fail, we must have mechanisms in place to hold them accountable. Wherever you live — equal protection is a right, not a privilege.
Tom Dart is the sheriff of Cook County.
I saw this update (dated today) on the Village Website –
If you did not already know (please see my message of 4/22/14 below), our electric aggregation contract with Constellation Energy has expired but was previously renewed at a rate or 5.85 cents/kWh for one month. At the April meeting, the VBT authorized me to enter into a 3 year agreement for a rate of about 7.2 cents/kWh (or lower at the time of signing). However, Constellation declined to grant a provision in the extension agreement that was included in the original agreement that would have allowed the Village to terminate the agreement if the ComEd price dropped below the contract price. Accordingly, because I did not have the authorization to sign an agreement without that provision, I did not do so. However, to insure your electric supply we entered into a one month extension agreement.
At the May VBT meeting, the Board directed the Village to seek a 60 or 90 day extension with Constellation so that we could go out for bid for a renewal rate. Constellation only offered a 90 day extension at a rate of 7.67 cents/kWh which will be the September 9 meter reading. Unfortunately, this is 0.08 cents/kWh higher than the recently announced ComEd rate of 7.59 cents/kWh. Again, pursuant to VBT direction and in order to insure your continued electric supply and to give the Village time to seek longer term bids from qualified electric suppliers, the Village entered into this agreement. The alternative would have been to request that our aggregated ComEd customers be converted back to ComEd for their electric supply. The downside for this option would have been two-fold. First, our residents would have had to remain with ComEd for a 12 month period before a new aggregation contract could be obtained. Second, we could not now seek an alternative electric supplier but would have to wait until next year in order to do so. This would subject our residents to whatever ComEd would charge over the course of the next year and would cause the Village to miss the opportunity to test the energy market at this time. Of course, the Village would not be obligated to accept any bid received and could still decide to return everyone to ComEd. In the meantime, for the next 3 months, the Village aggregation agreement will continue with Constellation. I will provide more information as it becomes available.
There was a nice article in The Doings online edition about LaGrange Highlands’ Service Day (have you noticed how nice Sacajawea and Blackhawk Parks look? Now if Public Works would just mow the grass at the parks regularly!)
Today was another court date in the march to justice for Kelli O’Laughlin. Here is an update on the Kelli O’Laughlin trial from the Doings. (And thank goodness they used a photo of Kelli with the article, instead of the defendant!)
That’s all for now -hope you have a great week!
Guest Blog Post by Mary Uhrina
Check out today’s Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-insurance-claims-flooding-met-20140514,0,3734520.story) story on Farmer’s Insurance Group suing nearly 200 municipalities – Indian Head Park included – “arguing that they didn’t do enough to prevent last year’s record flooding.”The suits argue that public agencies should have taken more emergency measures, such as emptying their reservoirs before the rains hit and employing more sandbags and inflatable flood barriers. That, the suits assert, could have prevented problems such as sanitary sewers backing up into homes so forcefully that “geysers of sewer water shot out from the floor drains. The common, central and fundamental issue in this action is whether the defendants have failed to safely operate retention basins, detention basins, tributary enclosed sewers and tributary open sewers/drains for the purpose of safely conveying stormwater,” the lawsuit states.
We live in a cul de sac that has had a long history of drainage issues. Some time before we moved here the village created two retention areas that drain into a small creek that feeds Flagg Creek. Since we have been having these “100 year” rains every year the area we lovingly refer to as “the pit” fills with water. Of course, our lower level drain is ineffective when there is back pressure from water in the pit. About five years ago it filled so high that we had water come into our lower level because the patio doors couldn’t hold back the volume. Never even thought about claiming it on insurance. We cleaned it up and moved on. In the past few years we’ve come close a few times. I have gotten really good at hoisting sandbags.
The village has rodded tree roots out of the drain in the past. Last year they “scoped” it and saw no tree roots, but did tell us the big pipe feeding into the little pipe was the reason it couldn’t drain fast enough.
Well, Sunday night when the big rain came the pit started to fill and a sink hole appeared downline from the storm sewer. It’s a pretty big hole and as one of my neighbors put it, “it looked like lava flowing.”
The good news is that an email to our new Village Administrator/Chief of Police John Brooks resulted in a personal visit on Monday. He came back with Director of Public Works Ed Santen about an hour later. Not long after two public works employees arrived to cover the hole with plywood and erect barricades. Then JULIE arrived to mark the utilities. Tomorrow a contractor is coming to assess the situation and begin work to rectify this.
We are thrilled.
Well, this was a weird meeting! Not to give away the highlights but I have to say – there were some odd things that went on and I’m not sure what or why things happened the way they did! See for yourself…
Initially, the meeting was as usual. The Mayor’s Report covered the draft budget that has been prepared by the Finance Committee. He’s asked the Trustees to take some time to review the draft and then forward to Dave Brink any questions or comments. The draft budget will then be presented and reviewed at the June Board Meeting, with a tentative “special” meeting scheduled for June 26th (if needed for additional discussion). He also mentioned that there is a thought to install a PACE bus shelter (or shelters) in Indian Head Park with the idea that there could be revenue for the village from the advertising. The idea has promise – from what I can gather, Indian Head Park allows for advertising in the bus shelters (that PACE installs), the bus shelters are maintained and the village shares in the revenues generated from the advertising, and users are sheltered from the elements while waiting for the bus. Here’s an interesting article about a partnership between PACE and Chicago Heights. Now that is the sort of “out of the box” thinking that I like to see!
Next, the meeting moved on to the Consent Agenda. No surprise, Jack Yelnick and Diane Andrews were reappointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission. I was glad to see that there was (at least) the question asked by Trustee Hinshaw as to whether other interested residents were invited to apply to the Commission and whether other possible applicants were interviewed or considered, and (not surprisingly) President Andrews’ answer to either suggestion was – “no”. Not even considered. By pointing this out I don’t mean to say that Mr. Yelnick or Ms. Andrews are not qualified to continue sitting on the Planning and Zoning Commission, but I do find it disappointing that the President doesn’t EVER seem to feel that polling residents for interest in participating on these boards, in their local government in general, is a worthwhile exercise not just to see who else in the village might bring new perspective and experience, but also just to bring new people into involvement in the village as a whole.
After the Financial Reports (both March and April 2014) were approved and the Board Meeting Minutes for April 2014 was approved, the meeting moved on to the Consent Agenda. This is where things got weird.
The first agenda item related to payment for expenses related to the bond issue, assuring that expenses that are incurred related to the bond issue are paid prior to receipt of the bond being issued. This agenda item is passed (not a single comment, unanimously). Now, items on the consent agent (see IHPagendamay2014final), numbers 2-6 are, in turn, tabled WITHOUT COMMENT. Not a single trustee asked for clarification, Andrews didn’t offer any explanation, nothing. Very odd. Not gonna lie – it was strange and made my antenna go up, especially the way it all happened. Each item related to the Street Program/Road Bond was noted and immediately tabled. After all the crazy rush that surrounded the road bond agenda items last month, where there was not a moment to waste in order to get shovels in the ground by June and work done by October, this month each relevant item (except the first one about payment of expenses) is COMPLETELY tabled. Weird. Just weird. At the end of the meeting you can see that 2 residents asked about the situation for clarification and not much was gleaned – just that the bond counsel, Chapman and Cutler, had not (according to Attorney Ramello) completed their “due diligence” and therefore IHP couldn’t proceed at this meeting. Bad news for residents of Ashbrook and Acacia, as well as those other streets that are desperately needing the repairs to get done this year. Hmmmmm….. I think there’s a lot more to the story than the village is sharing right now and it’s probably not good, stay tuned friends, stay tuned….
On to the other Consent Agenda items – the next item on the agenda is the agreement between Indian Head Park and Lyons Township for Police Patrol – the current contract ended on April 30, 2014 and so the new contract was on the agenda. Apparently, IHP added $2.00 to the new per hour price in the contract for 2014-2016 and we won the contract. The discussion surrounding this agenda item was interesting, and Amy Wittenberg suggested that (in the future) it might be important to the village to look at the contract and how it is worded. She feels it is an antiquated form, that the village shouldn’t be absorbing the cost of things like fuel – that those sorts of expenses should have a proviso in the contract to allow for us to bill for fuel cost increases instead of IHP taking the risk. Tom Hinshaw also pointed out that the coverage map included in the contract appeared to be incorrect. With these comments, and the request that the map be corrected, the contract until 2016 was approved.
item #8 on the Consent Agent, “Consideration of an Ordinance Amending Sections of Title 2, “Administration/Personnel” and Adding Chapter Regarding Purchasing – was discussed briefly, but then tabled. Village Administrator Brooks began the topic by discussing his review of some neighboring municipalities and their purchasing policies. Amy Wittenberg then added to the conversation by suggesting that there are many municipalities to survey, and that she (and other trustees) have suggested a definition of procurement, or a a”procurement structure” that creates guardrails for competitive pricing with regards to village purchasing. She stated that the ordinance that has been presented to the Board for this meeting exceeds and expands upon what she and other trustees were looking for in a way that may create more burdens for the village than was intended and with that being the case she requested that the Board table the current discussion. Her motion to table the item was passed, and the topic will appear on the next Board agenda.
The next item on the agenda regarded the Electrical Aggregation Agreement. Rather than go through the whole conversation, I’ll link to the Doings article here – “Indian Head Park to seek bids for its electricity contract”. For the backstory of what happened since the April Board meeting, here is a link to President Andrews’ Village Desk comments on the IHP village website – Electric Aggregation (04/22/2014).
The last item on the Consent Agenda was a presentation regarding Lyons Township Mass Dispensing & Vaccination Plan by Trustee Wittenberg. Basically, she and Trustee Brenda O’Laughlin attended a seminar regarding Lyons Township response protocol in the event of an public health emergency or threat (such as a disease outbreak, natural disaster or intentional bioterrorist attack) regarding the need to provide mass vaccinations or other medications to residents. There is a comprehensive plan for the community to respond when necessary.
Finally, during the question and comment portion of the meeting, two residents asked for further clarification of the delay in the Road Bond consent agenda items which will, in turn, definitely affect the timeline for the implementation of the street repair. As I mentioned earlier, the Village Attorney would not say anything beyond that the Bond Counsel was not finished conducting their “due diligence”. Hmmmm.
I also made a comment at the end of the meeting regarding difficulty getting a response to phone calls from a staff person, Ed Santen, at the village. I felt it was important to get “on the record” that the fact that as I was trying to organize the Service Day for Highlands Middle School, I and another person who was also working on the event, didn’t get phone calls returned after leaving messages for him. Discussing this issue with a neighbor of mine over the weekend brought out the difficulty HE has been having in regards to getting calls returned from another village employee. I’m now wondering if this is a broader problem than I had originally thought. I’d like to ask my readers here, please let Tom Hinshaw, Brenda O’Laughlin, or Amy Wittenberg know if you have a problem with getting phone calls returned when you call someone at the village – the Trustees need to know if this is an issue with the residents in order for the situation to be rectified.
On the agenda is the Approval of an Ordinance and Contract for the Lyons Township Hireback program (Agenda item #4). If you are interested, here is the link to our current agreement – http://www.indianheadpark-il.gov/docs/OpenGovProj/LT_Hireback.pdf
Another item on the agenda is a discussion regarding the IHP Electrical Aggregation Program. Here are a few interesting articles about the topic for your information;
- Plug In Illinois Website – Municipal Aggregation List
- The next jolt to your wallet: ComEd rates rise 20% starting next month
- Electric rates likely to rise, return to ComEd in La Grange, LaGrange Park
- City of Countryside Electric Aggregation Program
- Uncertainty for savings leads to suspension of electric aggregation program
I hope to see you tomorrow night! It’s so important to have residents attend the meetings and voice their opinions and concerns (positive and negative) to our Village Board in person. They need to hear the residents in order to continue to know the best way to work on our behalf.
Hello! Happy Spring! I have compiled a bit of information and news that I thought you might be interested in –
First of all, I was looking at the Village Website today and was surprised to see this. I know I am probably one of the few people who has the website bookmarked so I’m sharing for those of you who may not have seen this news regarding the Electrical Aggregation Agreement:
As you know, in accordance with the wishes of our residents who approved the referendum question allowing the Village to engage in electric aggregation, the VBT approved and entered into a contract in May 2013 with Constellation Energy. Our one-year contract gave us a rate of 4.899 cents per kwh. This contract expires in May this year and efforts are in progress to work out a new deal with Constellation or some other electric energy supplier. At our meeting on April 10, 2014, the VBT approved a resolution accepting a 3-year renewal with Constellation at a new rate of 7.19 cents per kwh. Yes, like the stock market, the energy market fluctuates from day to day and within the day. In approving this bid at the higher rate, the VBT took into consideration that the ComEd rate was likely to be higher (7.63 cents per kwh by some estimates) than the Constellation rate and that there would be a new opt-out period for our residents at the start of this new extension. Also, our original agreement contained a price protection provision whereby the Village could terminate the agreement in the event the ComEd rate dropped below the Constellation rate. It appeared to be a “no-lose” situation. Unfortunately, as Village Counsel worked through the details of the extension agreement, Constellation indicated that it would no longer grant the price protection provision. As such, I was not able to sign the extension without that provision and our energy agreement with Constellation has converted by its terms to a month to month basis. Our new rate beginning in mid-May for one month will be 5.85 cents per kwh. I have instructed Counsel to prepare documents to go out for bid that should allow us to enter into a longer term agreement with a new company at our May 8 VBT meeting. If not, it appears at present that we could end the aggregation and go back to ComEd. Please watch the Village website for more information as it becomes available. Keep in mind, your electricity will stay on and you will not get locked into a long term deal you do not like. http://www.indianheadpark-il.gov/VillageDesk.html
And a new sign appeared at the Heritage Center in the last day or so:
I don’t know what the seedlings are but it’s a nice idea.
Also, Highlands Middle School is having it’s 4th annual Service Day on May 8th. ALL the students from the Middle School provide acts of service in and around their communities (primarily in Indian Head Park, Western Springs, and LaGrange). On this day they provide assistance to many worthwhile organizations and individuals including Helping Hand, BedsPlus, The Community Nurse Association, Meadowbrook Manor, LaGrange and Pleasantdale Park Districts, as well as helping at the homes of some of our local senior citizens. This year in Indian Head Park they will be working in Blackhawk Park and Kelli’s Playground/Sacajawea Park helping to spread mulch, clean up the areas, and possibly do some planting. The mulch will be provided by the village, but plants are generally donated by the parents and local communities. Below is a list of all the “Wish List” items that the students are hoping to collect for all the various service projects and organizations being supported. Please review the list and consider donating an item or two for the Service Day and bringing it to the Middle School office on Plainfield Road by Wednesday, May 7th.
-Gently used, recreational reading books for children ages 0-18 (no textbooks or coloring/activity books)
-Potting Soil Bags (40 lb bags)
-Perennial Plants (it is great if they come from your own garden!)
-Yard waste bags
-Pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House
-Cases of Bottled water
-Crystal light (or similar brand) flavor packets
-New Adult socks (Men’s or Women’s)
-New (or gently used) Men’s cotton T-shirts (sizes L or XL)
-New Men’s boxers (sizes L or XL)
-New Women’s Cotton Underwear (sizes M, L, or XL)
-Small bottles of Talcum Powder
-VERY GENTLY used adult sneakers (Men’s or Women’s)
-journals, teen jewelry, watches
-new board games, puzzles
-craft supplies and kits
-barrettes, hair clips, hair ties
-lip gloss and/or chapstick
-basketballs, football, kickballs-standard size or Nerf type for kids
-Popular Music CD’s
-McDonalds Gift Cards ($5 or $10 donations)
-Movie Gift Cards (AMC, Loews, LaGrange Theatre)
-Batteries of all sizes (AA, AAA, C, D, E)
If you are doing some Spring Cleaning, you may need this information – (click on links for detailed info/flyers)
Hazardous Waste Collections Day – Countryside – Saturday, May 17th from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Hinsdale South Recycling Event – May 3rd from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Village of Hinsdale – National Prescription Drug Take- Back Day – Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
UPDATE FOR ONE MORE EVENT: 9th Annual Computer Drive – LTHS South Campus – Saturday, May 17 from
8 am – 12 noon
Secretary of State’s Office Returning to the Burr Ridge Village Hall in 2014
Skip a trip to the Secretary of State’s Office. It’s coming to you! The Secretary of State Mobile Driver Services Facility is coming to the Burr Ridge Village Hall on May 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Click here to view a copy of the event brochure.
Any Illinois resident can attend. The mobile facility can renew licenses and State ID cards up to one year in advance of their expiration date. They will also offer vision screening, duplicate and/or corrected drivers’ licenses, new identification cards and vehicle renewal stickers. Anyone over the age of 65 can obtain a free state ID, good for life. Otherwise, standard fees apply. The only service the mobile facility cannot offer is a road test. Anyone over the age of 75 is required to take a road test when renewing a driver’s license. To learn more about identification requirements, fees and services visit the Secretary of State’s web site at www.cyberdriveillinois.com. For directions to or information about the Village of Burr Ridge call (630) 654-8181.
IHP in the news:
Many thanks to the students and staff at Highlands Middle School that support IHP’s Easter Egg Hunt! Originally they stuffed the eggs as part of their Service Day work, but since Service Day has fallen after Easter the last couple years they’ve continued to stuff the eggs on their own time at the school!
Seeing more and more about marijuana arrests locally: http://westernsprings.suntimes.com/crime/blotter-WSD-04222014:article
Finally, I know that oftentimes the IHP Police Reports do not show up in the local papers, but if you are ever interested you can go to the Police Department page on the IHP website and find detailed information on the most recent month’s activities (here is March’s for instance – http://www.indianheadpark-il.gov/docs/police/Mar14DailyComplaintList.pdf) or you can go here for all the links going back to 2011 http://www.indianheadpark-il.gov/crime_alerts.html.