Affordable Housing Should Not Be Inferior Housing

Affordable Housing Should Not Be Inferior Housing

Availability of Safe and Affordable Housing is crucial to the progress of Lake County. Lack of it deters businesses from expanding into our communities, who opt for communities with greater access to available workforce resources.
I had a conversation with Dr. Ben Carson in March, thanking him and HUD for putting pressure on our local Housing Authorities and demanding they improve on the quality and safety of our housing programs.
This last audit by HUD uncovered over 700 violations in 78 housing units for one housing authority in Lake County, many of them serious safety violations. Violations ranged from uncapped gas lines to raw sewage in a basement to circuit breakers tampered with to prevent them from properly tripping when overloaded. 
As a result of the audit, the North Chicago Housing Authority is being told to pay back to HUD over $150,000 in non federal funds. This costs taxpayers.
It is hard to believe, based on the facts of the audit, that inspections on these units were even performed prior to their passing the Housing Inspection process. Yet even senior management was part of the pre-audit inspection process.
In addition to the obvious fiscal and business reasons, this is a humanitarian issue. Public funds should not be spent to private companies who subject their tenants unsafe and unclean conditions. It is the job of our Housing Authorities to guarantee a safe place for families and individuals to live.

Here is a link to the HUD Summary:

Here is a link to the full HUD audit: 

Please support House Bill 3593

Please support House Bill 3593

House Bill 3593, sponsored by Representative Sam Yingling in the 101st General Assembly concerns the ability to remove a County Board Chairman with or without cause by a 4/5ths vote of the County Board body.
I ask that you support this bill, as it is good policy, and allows for the removal of a Chair if the body feels that the Chair is not working in the best interest and for the benefit of the Taxpayers.

Here is the language of the amendment of (55 ILCS 5/2-1003) (from Ch. 34, par. 2-1003).

A chairman who is chosen by the county board may be
removed, with or without cause, upon a motion adopted by an
affirmative vote of four-fifths of the county board. Upon
adoption of a motion to remove the chairman: (i) the chairman
position becomes vacant and the former chairman’s compensation
shall be prorated to the date the motion was approved; (ii) the
vice-chairman immediately assumes the duties of chairman
without chairman compensation; and (iii) a new chairman shall
be elected at the next regularly scheduled county board
meeting. A chairman removed under this Section maintains his or
her status as a member of the county board.

Here is the link to the General Assembly Website for the bill. 

April 2nd Ballot Information for District 3 Residents – Plenty of Reasons to Vote

April 2nd Ballot Information for District 3 Residents – Plenty of Reasons to Vote

Lots of reasons to come out and vote on April 2nd in District 3, for Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Round Lake Beach , and Round Lake Heights, including several Bond Referendums.

Here are the issues on your ballots: Listed with contested races closer to the top.

Bond Questions

Lake Villa School District #41: 2 Questions, totaling $50,000,000.

Question 1: Proposition To Issue $34,200,000 School Building Bonds. (Yes or No)
Shall the Board of Education of Lake Villa Community Consolidated School District Number 41, Lake County, Illinois, improve the sites of, build and equip additions to and alter, repair and equip existing buildings, including, without limitation, constructing security and health/life safety improvements, increasing accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, maintaining infrastructure and renovating learning areas, and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $34,200,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?
Question 2: Proposition To Increase Debt Service Extension Base (Yes or No)
Shall the debt service extension base under the Property Tax Extension Law for Lake Villa Community Consolidated School District Number 41, Lake County, Illinois, for payment of principal and interest on limited bonds be increased from $442,810 to $1,225,000 for the 2019 levy year and all subsequent levy years?
$ Summary: Per the District 41 Fact Sheet, based on a $250,000 home value:
  1.  If ‘Yes’ to both bond questions, Residents will pay approximately $601/year for the bond debt starting in 2021, down from $813.
  2. If ‘No’ to both bond questions, Residents will pay $0/year for the bond debt starting in 2021, down from $813.

Village of Round Lake Heights: 1 Question, totaling $2,700,000

Question: Proposition For Public Water System Improvements (Yes or No)
Shall the Village of Round Lake Heights, Lake County, Illinois, for the purpose of paying the costs of improvements and extensions to the existing water and water supply system of said Village, including such improvements and extensions as are sufficient to provide for the storage and distribution thereof, and for expenses incident thereto, issue its bonds to the amount of $2,700,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?

$ Summary: Per the Daily Herald, based on a $200,000 home value:
  1. If ‘Yes’, Residents will pay $388/year for the bond debt.
  2. If ‘No’, Residents will pay $0/year for the bond debt.

Municipal/Board Elections

Lindenhurst Village President: (Vote for 1)

  • Ryan Brandes – Lindenhurst United For Change
  • Dominic Marturano – Lindenhurst Best Choice

Lindenhurst Clerk (Vote for 1)

  • Jody Stoughtenger – Lindenhurst Best Choice

Lindenhurst Trustee (Vote for 3)

  • Stacey Kramer – Lindenhurst United For Change
  • Trak Patel – Lindenhurst United For Change
  • Cassandra Slade – Lindenhurst United For Change
  • Dawn Czarny – Lindenhurst Best Choice
  • Patrick John Dunham – Lindenhurst Best Choice
  • Heath Rosten – Lindenhurst Best Choice

Grayslake Community High School District 127 (Vote for 4)

  • Edwin Brown
  • Hal Sloan
  • Jonathan Reinoso
  • Kathleen Conlon Wasik
  • Erin Westphal

Trustees of the College of Lake County (Vote for 2)

  • Julia Byrne Shroka
  • Timothy Powell
  • Vaseem Iftekhar

Grant High School Board (Vote for 3)

  • Robert Yanik
  • John Lee Jared
  • Kathy Kusiak
  • Ivy Jo Fleming

Millburn Consolidated School District #24 Board (Vote for 4)

  • Carissa Casbon
  • Stephen Gray
  • Sean Coleman
  • Irshad Khan
  • Jeffrey Flary
  • Ardre Orie

Regional Board of Schools Trustee – 6 Yr Term (Vote for 3)

  • Julie Gonka
  • Alison Baker Frank Packer
  • Chase Thomas
  • Phillip DeRuntz

Regional Board of Schools Trustee – Unexpired 2 Yr Term (Vote for 1)

  • Joye Williams

Lake Villa Trustee (Vote for 3)

  • Karen Harms
  • Jake Cramond
  • Jeff Nielsen (Write in)

Lake Villa Public Library Trustee (Vote for 4)

  • Barbara Venturi
  • Kathleen Rettinger
  • Fergal Gallagher
  • Douglas Nieman

Lake Villa District 41 School Board (Vote for 4)

  • Joanne Osmond
  • Joe Dunne
  • Michael Conway
  • Debbie Walsh

Fox Waterway Agency (Vote for 1)

  • James Meyer

Round Lake Beach Trustee (Vote for 3)

  • Kevin Wallace
  • Margie Cleveland
  • Paul Stout

Round Lake Beach Clerk (Vote for 1)

  • Dana Hillesheim

Commissioner – Round Lake Area Park District (Vote for 1)

  • Patrick Duby

Antioch Community High School District 117 School Board (Vote for 3)

  • Ellen Ipsen
  • Geoff Guttschow
  • Sandy Jacobs
Lake County Board’s Dick Barr participates in NACo’s DC Legislative Conference

Lake County Board’s Dick Barr participates in NACo’s DC Legislative Conference

 Administration and congressional leaders highlight county role in serving residents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lake County Board Member, Dick Barr, joined nearly 2,000 other county leaders in Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Counties (NACo) annual Legislative Conference March 2-6.  Participants met with members of the Trump administration and Congress on key issues like disaster recovery, the opioid and substance abuse epidemic, Veteran issues and revitalizing American infrastructure.

“As a new County Board Member, I wanted to see the value that a nationwide conference of County officials could provide. I was blown away at the quality and quantity of information available, the A-List of speakers, and the personal contacts, not just U.S. Congressmen, Senators and their aids, but Federal agency, and other county official contacts from all over the country to share experiences with,” said Barr. “I must have walked away with 50-60 business cards of leaders throughout the country whom I can call on for valuable information, to bounce ideas off, and to see how they solved issues that are currently affecting Lake County.”

“Decisions made by the White House, Congress and federal courts have major impacts on our ability to lead our communities and pursue a better future,” said NACo President Greg Cox. “This conference is an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our federal partners as we help residents forge pathways to live well and thrive.”

In meetings with lawmakers and administration officials, county leaders outlined several key federal policy priorities including:

  • Promoting county infrastructure priorities in a comprehensive infrastructure package
  • Supporting the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) programs, which honor federal commitments to public lands and timber counties
  • Promoting mental health, substance use disorders treatment and criminal justice reform, and
  • Boosting broadband deployment and accessibility while preserving local zoning authority.

As part of its policy advocacy, NACo launched an updated “Counties Matter” campaign to illustrate counties’ vast role in advancing America’s policy priorities at the local level. NACo also launched a new and improved County Explorer. The tool, which allows users to map data at the county level, now works on mobile devices and is more user-friendly.

“When I first was introduced to the “County Explorer” tool, I was amazed at how much data is available to us through our association with NACo. At the click of a mouse we can compare our county, based on size, demographic, population, rural/urban landscape on metrics such as economy growth, opioid deaths, number of hospitals, veteran population, homeless, affordable housing, number of exports and imports, along with hundreds of other metrics,” said Barr. “Being able to access this data instantly, and printing a beautifully formatted and easy to read report is an invaluable tool for advocacy when speaking with our local, state and federal leaders.”

Conference participants heard from congressional and administration leaders, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, Amy Klobuchar and Marco Rubio, Assistant to the President and Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Co-Founder of America Online Steve Case.

Counties officials were very active on Capitol Hill, meeting with senators and representatives on key County issues.  The conference featured three briefings on Capitol Hill: one on strengthening human services; one on fixing the FAST Act, focusing on transportation infrastructure; and another on how counties are reimaging health care in county jails. NACo also announced a joint task force with the National Sheriffs’ Association to examine the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy, which strips federal health and veterans’ benefits from individuals upon admission to jail – not upon conviction – leading to increased recidivism.

Dozens of county officials also rallied at a press conference with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to underscore support for key public lands programs, Secure Rural Schools and Payments in Lieu of Taxes. Watch the press conference here.

There were more than two dozen policy workshops featuring county officials and other leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. They focused on topics like the opioid crisis; early childhood investments; workforce and economic development; transportation and infrastructure; public health and safety; mental health and jails; and cybersecurity and technology.

“The NACo Conference was just the beginning. Now I need to take advantage of the information I learned and work with my colleagues on the Board to evaluate how Lake County can benefit from these best practices,” said Barr. “Cultivating the relationships obtained in Washington over the coming months will be instrumental in building on the concepts gathered at the conference and solidifying ideas to benefit all residents of Lake County.”

Improved Transparency – Lake County to Film Standing Committee Meetings

Improved Transparency – Lake County to Film Standing Committee Meetings

Lake County to Film Standing Committee Meetings

Beginning the week of Feb. 25, all Lake County Board standing committee meetings will be available to watch on and Lake County’s public access television channel (LCTV).  At the committee level, board members spend a significant amount of time discussing and evaluating significant financial and policy matters before these items are sent to the full board for final approval. Filming committee meetings will allow the public to see all the work that goes on at the committee level and have a deeper understanding of the issues.

“I’m proud of what our board continues to accomplish around transparency,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. “We want residents to hear the concerns and deliberations of programs and services that takes place at these meetings. Often times, people that want to attend meetings can’t because of their busy schedules. Filming all standing committee meetings will make this information accessible to all Lake County residents.”

The Financial and Administrative Committee approved filming standing committees at its Feb. 7 meeting to enhance transparency and increase access to local government.

“We are excited to be able to enhance transparency by showing the work being done in committee meetings at no additional cost to taxpayers,” said Financial and Administrative Committee Chair Paul Frank. “Lake County Board meetings are already being broadcast, so the equipment and staff resources are currently in place. That means we can film committee meetings within our current structure.”

The meetings will not be broadcast live but recordings will be available within 48 hours after the committee meeting, and can then be viewed any time after that at Each meeting will be indexed, which provides the ability for online viewers to jump to a specific place in meetings/agendas.

The meetings also will be replayed frequently on LCTV, which is available on Comcast Cable, either channel 18 or 30, depending on where you live in the county. AT&T Customers can view LCTV on channel 99. View the LCTV Coverage Area.

Lindenfest, the Epitome of Community

Lindenfest, the Epitome of Community

This weekend I was so honored and grateful to have the opportunity to spend so much time with residents of Lindenhurst and Lake Villa at the Annual Lindenfest Festival and parade.

Not only was it a genuine good time for me and my family, it was such a beautiful example of how communities come together to make things happen and be with each other in a fun and happy environment.

On a more solemn note, it was also uplifting to see so many people from the community come out for an impromptu prayer vigil to pray for the rapid recovery of the the sweet little girl who was struck by a vehicle Friday night in Lindenhurst.  Members of the community from all around, Lindenfest committee members, village officials, police and even family of the little girl, Leah, all showed up to share their prayers and wishes for her recovery.

I ask that everyone please continue to pray for Leah and her family. I’d also like to ask for everyone to pray for the poor driver who was caught by surprise and now must personally deal with the horrible tragic accident.

Lastly, I want to thank to 60+ supporters who braved the heat to walk with me and my family in Saturday’s parade. You are all an amazing group of people, and I am truly humbled by your support!

Lake County Needs to Reevaluate it’s P-Card use for Board Members

Lake County Needs to Reevaluate it’s P-Card use for Board Members

In light of recent allegations of abuse with the County’s P-Card system, I would like to propose a replacement system for the County Board Members to contemplate for Members.

While some have suggested a simple reimbursement plan to eliminate P-Cards, unfortunately that does not solve the problem, as well has the unintended consequence of utilizing additional staff time, which I believe would cost more than any savings to the tax payer.

The problem lies in the gap between use of public funds and how it is approved for use. A simple reimbursement plan would not solve the question of appropriate use of tax payer money. It would be unfair to any employee of the county to be in a position of having to challenge elected officials they report to, especially when those officials have the ability to fire them.

To bridge that gap, I suggest a reimbursement (or prior approved requisition in the case of large expenses) system that goes through the finance committee to be voted on by all the Committee members.

This would allow expenses to be approved or rejected in a public forum on a non partisan basis, would not take up additional staff time, and add a TRANSPARENT layer of ACCOUNTABILITY to the process.

I also believe the Board needs to evaluate its existing rules (which they are in the process of doing now) and focus on creating a very clear cut and common sense list of purposes and rules that govern elected officials’ use of tax payer funds.

If elected, I will push for the discontinued use of Board Member P-Cards, and further vow to not accept one for my own use.

Grant High School District 124 to See HUGE Drop in Property Taxes for Residents

Grant High School District 124 to See HUGE Drop in Property Taxes for Residents

Congratulations to the School Board of Grant High School District #124, who has paid off it’s bonds and have chosen to give the tax payers a real break.

Very often school boards see paying off of debt as an opportunity to raise more debt under the guise of “Keeping taxes the same”. The Board of District 124 has decided to give the tax payers a break instead.

Here is the text of their announcement:

With the green grass of spring arriving shortly, property owners within Grant Community High School boundaries will see more green in their pockets too!
Property tax owners will soon be seeing a savings in their tax bills. In December of 2017, the District paid off all of the debt that was associated with the facility improvements over the years to accommodate enrollment growth. The tax rate for Grant Community High School is dropping over 25 percent and the owner of a $250,000 home will see our portion of their property taxes drop $665 this year. The District is thankful for our supportive
taxpayers, whose dedication to Grant Community High School have given us the facilities that we have. We are grateful to have the debt paid off and be able to provide some tax relief to property owners.
The District administration will continue to monitor the tax rates each year and are committed to working with the Board to find ways to ease the taxpayers’ burden.