Thursday, August 30, 2012

DuPage Housing Authority ousts another director

Could this be a result of not being properly vetted.  

Article updated: 8/29/2012 3:02 PM
DuPage Housing Authority ousts another director
Just eight months after being brought in to help clean up the embattled DuPage Housing Authority, David Hoicka has been fired from his job as executive director.
Housing authority board Chairman Thomas Good announced the change in leadership on Wednesday morning. He said Hoicka was let go a day earlier “without cause” by the board.

“It’s disappointing that a change in direction was necessary,” said Good, adding that the board chose to exercise the “no-cause” termination provision in Hoicka’s contract.
In a written statement, the housing board said: “The board of commissioners appreciates the work Mr. Hoicka accomplished with the housing authority and the strides that were made during his management of the agency.”
Hoicka’s termination came about two weeks after board members received an unsigned letter that was highly critical of Hoicka’s management style. The sender of the letter claimed that it was written by housing authority staff members.
Good said the letter wasn’t a factor in the board’s decision. “The board does not react to anonymous letters,” he said.
Attempts to contact Hoicka on Wednesday were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at his Wheaton home.
Hoicka, who had served in senior management for housing agencies in Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii, was hired in January as part of ongoing efforts to overhaul the Wheaton-based agency that once mismanaged more than $10 million in federal funding.
He replaced John Day, who was forced to resign last year after the U.S. Office of Inspector General released two audits critical of the agency. A third audit concluded the agency improperly spent more than $5.8 million in federal money and failed to adequately document another $4.7 million.
Hoicka took the reins of the agency after the board conducted a nationwide search for an executive director. At the time he was hired, officials said Hoicka’s background made him an ideal choice.
In addition to publishing three handbooks on HUD housing programs, Hoicka served as an adviser for public housing groups in Southeast Asia and Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.
“We wouldn’t have hired him if we didn’t have faith in him,” Good said.
Hoicka will get three months of severance pay and health insurance benefits. His annual salary was $125,000 a year.
Housing authority officials have been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clear up the administrative issues that resulted in the audit findings.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin replaced every member of the housing board after the release of the third audit. The revamped housing board has since implemented a variety of reforms, including the adoption of a new ethics ordinance, travel policy and purchasing policy.
Good said he made federal housing officials aware of the change in leadership.
“I have assured them there will be no disruption in the efforts we are working on,” he said.
The housing board is planning to hire a firm to conduct a nationwide search for Hoicka’s replacement. Good said officials want the process “to go more quickly” than the previous search.
“We’re doing well with HUD, and we don’t want it to take six months or longer to come up with a new executive director,” Good said.
In the meantime, a current housing authority employee, Deb Darzinskis, will serve as interim executive director. She was hired in June to be a project administration specialist after spending 14 years with Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet.
“She’s highly thought of,” Good said of Darzinskis. “She has a wealth of experience from the charitable work.”

DuPage gives nod to lobbying contracts

DuPage gives nod to lobbying contracts
By Susan Frick carlman August 29, 2012 3:10PM

Updated: August 29, 2012 3:10PM 

Four consulting firms will share $324,000 in fees over the coming year after being hired by the DuPage County Board to lobby lawmakers on its behalf. The expense is the same amount the county spent for the purpose a year ago

Not everyone supported the new contracts, one of which will be paid in part with $40,000 kicked in by the DuPage Airport Authority.
Dirk Enger of Winfield, who represents District 6 on the board, acknowledged that the outlay is smaller than the expense the county has incurred for lobbying services in the past. The fees came to $390,000 in 2010. Last year’s total reflected a redistribution of the amounts paid to state and federal lobbyists after DuPage officials decided to spend more on issues in Illinois. They allocated $240,000 in 2010 for work in Washington, D.C., then cut that sum in half last year.
Enger said his constituents don’t support the expenditure of tax funds on lobbying. He said he has worked for nonprofits that don’t have lobbying budgets, such as veterans’ and housing organizations, and was “pushed out in the hallway” many times by powerbrokers.
“I still have a faith that we can rely on our elected officials to represent us,” Enger said. “I cannot support a system that I feel has tarnished democracy in America.”
Residents who spoke at Tuesday evening’s County Board meeting shared Enger’s opposition to the contracts, but Chairman Dan Cronin expressed confidence that the expense is worthwhile.

“It is critical, critical that the county maintain a strong presence both in Springfield and down in Washington, D.C.,” said Cronin, who spent almost two decades in the state House before taking the county’s top elected job in 2010.
He noted that notices of committee meetings sometimes aren’t posted until an hour before they begin, and stressed the value of “real-time” conveyance of county interests, saying the county has good working relationships with all of the lobbyists.
“They’re colleagues of ours,” Cronin said. “We have faith, trust and confidence in all of them.”
Although Illinois State Board of Elections records show some of the lobbying firms have made modest campaign contributions to current DuPage office holders, the board members who supported the accords weren’t concerned about ethical breaches.
JR McBride, who recently became chairman of the board’s legislative committee, voted against two of the four contracts in 2010. This time, he sees the agreements as needed and voted for all of them.
“I’ve always believed I was the best one-on-one basketball player out there,” McBride said. “But it’s a five-on-five game.”

DuPage defends use of lobbying firms

DuPage defends use of lobbying firms


As a former state lawmaker, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin says he understands the role that lobbyists play in the democratic process.
On Tuesday night, Cronin publicly defended the county’s use of lobbying firms at the state and federal levels.
“It is critical, critical that the county maintain a very strong presence in both Washington D.C. and Springfield,” Cronin said.
The county board then voted 15-1 to spend $300,000 to keep three lobbying firms.
Two of the firms — All-Circo, Inc. and V.A. Persico Consulting — will work with state lawmakers on the county’s behalf. The third firm, BGR Government Affairs LLC in Washington, D.C., will focus on federal initiatives.
DuPage also will contribute $24,000 to help pay McGuire Woods Consulting, which represents the DuPage Health Department at the state level. That expenditure didn’t require a county board vote because it’s less than $25,000.
As for the three other one-year contracts, Dirk Enger was the only county board member to oppose them.
“My constituents have made it very clear that they are not in favor of lobbyists,” Enger said. “One of the problems in politics — on both sides of the aisle — is supporting lobbyists, and it needs to come to an end.”
Board members who supported hiring the firms said DuPage’s team of lobbyists helped secure millions of dollars in state and federal funding for the county over the past year.
Cronin said the lobbyists are needed to communicate DuPage’s priorities and concerns directly to lawmakers.
“DuPage County has a well-respected and hardworking delegation of elected officials in both Springfield and Washington D.C.,” he said. “However, these legislators are confronted with hundreds, in some cases thousands, of different issues.
“They cannot always know the position of DuPage County on important pieces of legislation, particularly as legislation evolves throughout the process,” Cronin added. “Therefore, direct communication ... is essential to our success.”
As part of its contract, BGR Government Affairs will be paid $120,000. However, the DuPage Airport Authority is expected to reimburse the county $40,000, officials said.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DuPage County Board Members Vote For Lobbyists To Do Their Job

The same lobbyists that donated to several DuPage County Board members, including Pat O'Shea, Dan Cronin , Robert Larsen and Jim Zay  received one year contracts with DuPage County.  This is not the first time DuPage County Board members have come under fire for rewarding contracts to those that donate to their campaigns.  In January of 2011 nine of the 18 DuPage County Board members handed a no bid contract to Schirott, Luetkehans & Garner P.C. to help redraw the county's electoral map.

Last night the recipients of the contracts that donated to county board members were V.A. Perisco Consulting Inc. who received a $60,000.00 contract for one year. V.A. Perisco has donated to the campaigns of Pat O'Shea, Dan Cronin, Robert Larsen and Jim Zay. The concern with All Circo is that  John Kelly, Jr. is the owner and his wife Julie is an unpaid volunteer for Dan Cronin.

Besides the fact that some of these contracts have the appearance of impropriety is there true need for these lobbyists.  DuPage County Board member Dirk Enger said it best last night, I don't have the exact wording but his point was, who is better than the elected official at advocating on behalf of the citizens.

I agree with Dirk Enger.  It should be the job of the DuPage County Board member to lobby on behalf of those that elected him.  We heard last night from Don Puchalski who disagreed with Mr. Enger.  He said something to the effect that they are powerless,  we don't have the connections to get the job done and we heard more of the same from JR McBride.

Mr. Puchalski and Mr. McBride what are we paying you for?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DuPage Likely to Keep Lobbying Firms

Two of these firms donated to DuPage County Board members within the last 12 months. DuPage County citizens deserve better.

posted: 8/22/2012 4:42 PM
DuPage likely to keep lobbying firms
After voicing satisfaction about what four lobbying firms accomplished this year for DuPage County, a county board committee is calling for the same strategy to be used next year.
On Tuesday, the full county board is expected to vote on the recommendation to keep the same team of lobbyists.
If the one-year contracts totaling $324,000 are approved, three of the firms would continue to work with state lawmakers on the county’s behalf, while the fourth would remain focused on federal initiatives.
“This is by far our best group of lobbyists so far,” said JR McBride, chairman of the county board’s legislative and government affairs committee. He specifically praised the ongoing lobbying efforts to secure federal funding for the extension of the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway.
As part of its proposed contract, Washington, D.C.-based BGR Government Affairs LLC would be paid $120,000 from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2013 to promote the county’s interests at the federal level. The DuPage Airport Authority is expected to reimburse the county $40,000, officials said.
Three other lobbyists — All-Circo Inc., McGuire Woods Consulting and V.A. Persico Consulting Inc. — would represent DuPage’s interests in Springfield.
All-Circo would be paid a $120,000 from Sept. 15 to Sept. 14, 2013. The Chicago-based firm is owned by John J. Kelly, Jr., the husband of one of county board Chairman Dan Cronin’s policy consultants. Julie Kelly is an unpaid volunteer, according to Cronin.
McGuire Woods Consulting would get $24,000 as part of its proposed contract with the county. The firm has represented the DuPage Health Department since 2008.
DuPage’s lead state lobbyist would continue to be V.A. Persico Consulting Inc., which would be paid $60,000 from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2013. Vince Persico, a former state legislator from Glen Ellyn, has represented DuPage since 2003.
Despite four legislative committee members supporting the four contracts, panel member Dirk Enger this week opposed keeping all the lobbying firms.
“How effective are we going to be when (state lawmakers) can’t even sit down and address the pension issue?” said Enger, adding that there’s also gridlock at the federal level. “I just don’t see where we could be very effective at this time.”
County board member Don Puchalski acknowledged that he has been critical in the past of using lobbyists. Still, he said the county’s lobbyists “have done a great job.”
“These guys, especially our Springfield lobbyists, are able to get results,” Puchalski said. “They do know how to work both sides of the aisle.”
Vendor ethics disclosure statements show that two of the firms contributed to the campaigns of county board members within the last 12 months.
McGuire Woods Consulting in January donated $1,000 to county board member Pat O’Shea, who is vying for the 18th Judicial Circuit judge position against Democrat and Bolingbrook attorney Alice Wilson. Between September 2011 and February, Persico donated $645 to Cronin, $150 to O’Shea, $75 to board member Robert Larsen and $50 to board member Jim Zay, records show.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Election Commission To Follow DuPage Ethics

A step in the right direction.  Hopefully the policy will be enforced.

Pact puts election panel under DuPage ethics rules
By Susan Frick Carlman August 17, 20122 2:14PM

The DuPage County Election Commission was the last of the county’s scandal-plagued bodies to be eviscerated and rebuilt in the recent past. But it’s the first of 24 county agencies to partner directly with its ethics officer and the new investigator general for enforcement of the county ethics ordinance.

The County Board has followed the commission’s lead in adopting an agreement under which the election board’s ethics rules will be enforced by the county’s officer charged with that duty, backed up by the newly appointed investigator general whose job is to look into reports of suspected ethical lapses, through the county’s ethics ordinance.
Approved by the election panel earlier this month, the measure enables the agency to meet consultant Crowe Horwath’s recommendation that it adhere to the broader ethics guidelines.
Commission chairwoman Cathy Terrill said the election board is “a creature of statute, but it is not a unit of government,” so the accord had to be a memorandum of understanding rather than an intergovernmental agreement.
Terrill and her two fellow commissioners took their positions when the former commission was disbanded after Crowe Horwath identified numerous flaws in its ethics and purchasing practices. The county, which launched a broad transparency initiative several years ago, previously oversaw the dismantling and reconfiguration of the DuPage Water Commission and the DuPage Housing Authority when misspending practices were discovered at those two organizations after they had drained away tens of millions of dollars in public funds.
The previous Election Commission adopted ethics guidelines three years ago that came under fire from local leaders of the Ballot Integrity Project and other residents. Among their criticisms was that the initiative lacked teeth by inadequately restricting former employees from going to work for vendors involved in work for the commission. The measure passed 2 to 1 in December 2009.

Commissioner Christopher Hage was pleased the election panel this time was ahead of the pack in coming under the county’s ethical umbrella.
“I’m glad we foresaw that pothole there and kind of cleared that up,” he said.
The County Board welcomed the commission’s decision.
“I’d like to see us have this agreement with the other bodies,” said board member Donald Puchalski.
Those groups are being encouraged to follow suit. County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said Crowe Horwath’s evaluation of the two dozen appointed boards and commissions earlier this year revealed an unforeseen deficiency, virtually across the board.
“I think it’s safe to say we were all surprised to learn that many of these agencies did not have an ethics policy in place,” he said

A Steady Rain by Kevin O'Donnell

An excellent piece on DuPage County politics

Member of the American Theater Critics Association; New York Times Company Foundation-sponsored critic fellow


A Steady Rain
Posted: 08/16/2012 6:41 pm

Playwright Keith Huff's A Steady Rain is simply among the best police dramas you will ever see on a stage. The current production in Chicago of the noir good cop/bad cop play, is a reprise of the 2007 production with the orginal actors Randy Steinmeyer and Peter De Faria. The universal resonance of the themes of the personal cost of police work, the color grey of crime, and the bad ending of the scapegoating of a crime, has led to productions in the U.S. and all over the world. The show continues to find an audience with upcoming productions scheduled for Brazil, Prague, Venezuela, Tokyo, Columbia, Madrid and London.
The importance of plays like A Steady Rain or stories in any form with universal themes, is that the stories help us to figure things out, which is just what officials and residents of the western Chicago suburb of Winfield, Ilinois are currently trying to do. "We face difficult times in our country; we need to figure it out," said Winfield resident Chris Jonsson at a recent Winfield town meeting packed with residents who came to hear the REM Consulting report on the potential savings if the village disbanded its police department.
One path to figuring it out is to make the connection between a crime scapegoated in Keith Huff's fictional police drama and the initiative to disband the Winfield police department for cost savings and outsource the police function to the local sheriff (even though both the consultant and local Winfield residents agree, Winfield currently has a great police department). In a sense the proposal scapegoats the police department because it is not clear that Winfield's fiscal problems are caused by the police department, but never-the-less, the police department is the only village department currently considered for outsourcing.
The initiative to outsource Winfield police came after years of municipal revenue constraint including a failed referendum that would have provided financing for repair of Winfield streets. Now looming are possible deep budget cuts from the Ryan budget to federal funds for education, roads and bridges and law enforcement. The selection of Congressman Paul Ryan to be the Republican nominee for vice president serves to make those concerns immediate.
The impact of the Ryan budget cuts on Congressman Ryan's home town of Janesville, Wisconsin and on Winfield could be markedly unequal. After the closure of its GM plant, Janesville has leveraged its excellent highway system that connects with other midwest cities to re-invent itself as a distribution center. In contrast, Winfield streets show years of deferred maintenance partly due to decisions to prioritize the village's police and fire department because of the presence of a large hospital in Winfield.
At the Winfield town meeting, DuPage County Board member Dirk Enger cautioned that the number one priority of a consultant is to provide facts accurately and that the actual cost comparison cannot be stated until the village issues a request for a proposal and the sheriff responds. Enger stated that the county board must approve any contract between the sheriff and Winfield and that the county board never received a copy of the consultant report. Enger disputed the consultant's statement that the sheriff and Winfield would share red light camera fines. "I cannot imagine the county sharing revenue with the village," Enger said. "I don't think you can justify the figures you put on the board. You don't have the facts," Enger told the consultants.
Also calling for additional facts is life-long Winfield resident, Michelle Rosen who says that there needs to be a disclosure of the number of police calls made last year to the Cadence Hospital (formerly Central DuPage) and the cost of those calls. She and other Winfield residents ask why the non-profit hospital does not shoulder the municipal costs of police time at the hospital.
Observers outside of Winfield ask what will be the impact on property values and future development if Winfield outsources its police function to the local sheriff? No other community in Illinois has done so, making it dfficult to gauge the impact on property values. In addition, a recent Illinois Appeals Court decision affirmed the contractual rights of union police officers. The consultant report made no mention of the cost of police buyouts or where the money would come from.

Still another issue, one that does not lend itself to a quantified cost/benefit analysis, is the issue of the politicalization of DuPage County law enforcement. Scandals at the DuPage Housing Authority, DuPage Water Commission and DuPage County Election Commission have forced the resignations of their entire boards. Yet to date, there has not been a single indictment. Now a scandal at the DuPage County Forest Preserve has emerged regarding the steering of no bid contracts to insiders.
Activists who have seen what has happened at other DuPage agencies no longer file criminal complaints with law enforcement. Instead they make public statesments at Forest Preserve meetings and post the statements on YouTube.
After Winfield trustees and residents get their arms around these issues and around an agreed set of numbers from the potential savings from outsourcing, any contract with the sheriff would require the approval of the full DuPage County Board, a decision the consultant described as permanent because the cost of rebuilding a police department from scratch would be prohibitive.
Taking a few steps back suggests a simple interim test model solution for Winfield: contract with the DuPage County sheriff for police calls to Cadence Hospital. Send the bill to the hospital AND work with legislators to find some legislative relief from large non-profits who make enormous use of municipal infrastructure and services, but do not pay for those services.
In the mean time, Winfield police are out there 24/7 and A Steady Rain runs through September 2nd.
A Steady Rain
by Keth Huff
at Chicago Dramatists
1105 W. Chicago Ave
(312) 633-0630
Directed by Russ Tutterow
A Production of Chicago Dramatists and the Chicago Commercial Collective

Fundraiser for Kirchenberg and Leopoldo

Please consider supporting two great candidates for DuPage County Forest Preserve Don Kirchenberg and Steve Leopoldo

Join us for a Fundraiser for a Better DuPage Forest Preserve
Wednesday, August 22nd
Emmett’s Downers Grove
5200 Main St (at Grove St)
Don Kirchenberg is running for the District 2 Forest Preserve Commissioner position. He has dedicated himself to protecting the forest preserves, trees, wildlife and trails in DuPage County. Don, a lifelong area resident, is dedicated to better government and protecting DuPage’s natural treasures.
Don will work to:
Cut Part-Time Commissioner salaries by over 50% to $25,000. Stop single bid contracts. Not accept campaign donations from companies doing
business with the District. More about Don at:
Steve Leopoldo is running for the District 3 Forest Preserve Commissioner position. Steve will fight against waste and abuse in our local government and restore professional environmental management to the Forest Preserve.
Steve will fight to:
Prevent Fraud Restore ethics Refuse Public Pensions
More about Steve at:
$32.00 Individuals
Host Level Contributions: $50 bronze, $100 silver, $200 gold.
Appetizers and soft drinks. Cash bar.
Please RSVP ( or 630-481-6158) Walk-ins also welcome!
Can’t make it? Please show support at
Paid for by Leopoldo for DuPage Forest Preserve. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available at the Board’s web site ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, IL. Printed in House.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Always Watching Out for the DuPage County Taxpayer

Always watching out for the DuPage County taxpayer.  Please see below excerpts from DuPage United, The Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune

DuPage United Delegate Assembly 10-07-10

During the years of fiscal mismanagement, there was a consistent voice calling for restraint. Commissioner Liz Chaplin, whose appointment ended last June, was ignored and even ridiculed by other Commissioners, but outside investigators brought in to find out where all the money went lauded her efforts. Tonight we want to thank Liz Chaplin for 8 years of dedicated service as a Water Commissioner --

DuPage Water Commission - Jake Griffin -Daily Herald Some longtime commissioners like Poole and county-appointee Liz Chaplin are singled out for praise in the report for their efforts to try to alert the commission of the financial problems only to be rebuked by staff or fellow commissioners.

Chicago Tribune Editorial

$$ down the drain
March 24, 2010

Commissioners Allan Poole, who discovered a $15 million accounting error by Richter in 2006, and Liz Chaplin, a County Board appointee, tried to raise an alarm numerous times about the opacity of the commission's finances. But Poole and Chaplin were ignored on a board cleaved by a rivalry between municipal appointees and county appointees.

Lawsuit Against DuPage County

Islamic Center files lawsuit against DuPage County
The group claims county officials violated religious land use and other laws

By Michelle Manchir, Chicago Tribune reporter
August 16, 2012

A lawsuit filed by an Islamist group against DuPage County alleges the county unfairly denied it use of a home in West Chicago for its prayer services.
The Islamic Center of Western Suburbs claims in a federal lawsuit filed Friday the county "placed several unreasonable burdens and limits" on its effort to operate out of a home at 28W774 Army Trail Road.
The Islamic Center of Western Suburbs filed a lawsuit alleging DuPage County unfairly denied it use of a home near West Chicago for its prayer services.

The Islamic Center of Western Suburbs claims in a federal lawsuit filed Aug. 3 the county "placed several unreasonable burdens and limits" on its effort to operate out of a home at 28W774 Army Trail Road, in the northwest portion of the county.
The group claims county officials violated religious land use and other laws when county board members in May denied with a 15-3 vote a zoning change the group needed to hold prayer services at the house, which it has owned since 2008.
Mark Daniel, an attorney for the group, said he is seeking to have the special use approved, prevent the county from interfering with its use and other compensatory damages.
The complaint claims that the county overstated parking needs and traffic impacts that the worship center would bring to the neighborhood and understated the lot's area per occupant ratio.
As the county considered the special use earlier this year, many neighbors in the area of the site objected to the use, saying a prayer center is out of character with their neighborhood.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin did not return a phone message seeking comment. Johnna Kelly, a spokeswoman for the DuPage County board, said in an email "the county is not able to comment on pending legal matters."
A court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26 under U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon, Daniel said.

Board Member Terms

DuPage eyes setting board member terms
By Susan Frick Carlman August 14, 2012 5:10PM

Updated: August 15, 2012 7:30AM 

Not all of those who emerge victorious on Election Night will face the same duration of elected office. Officials in DuPage County are trying, though, to ensure that each has an equal chance of serving a full four years.

The County Board — all 18 positions of which will go before the voters on Nov. 6 — will decide at its Aug. 28 meeting how to meet the legal requirement to openly divide its six districts into groups to determine how long each of its members will serve. The board faces a Sept. 1 deadline under the Counties Code for devising a solution.
The change is necessitated by last year’s redrawing of electoral districts, a requirement that follows the U.S. Census head count done at the start of every decade. It also enables the county to meet the requirement that the voters be allowed to weigh in every two years on their representation in DuPage.
Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Wolfe, who last week circulated a confidential memo to the County Board addressing the issue, said the process must be done as fairly as possible.
“The randomness, I think, is the important issue,” she said.
Wolfe’s memo outlined an approach that would have the county clerk draw lots putting two districts in each of three groups, with staggered terms for each of the three representatives in each: two, four and four; four, two and four; or four, four and two years. The successful candidate who receives the most votes could be permitted to choose the configuration for that position over the ensuing decade, Wolfe said.

Board member Tony Michelassi, who represents Naperville and the rest of District 5, presented a similar draft ordinance Tuesday that would divide the board into three groups and have the lots drawn by the election winners. Whichever method is chosen, the limits will apply until the 2020 census calls for redistricting ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The county has historically used an informal drawing to decide who serves in office for which duration, but now it must be done sooner. Thirteen of the current members are seeking re-election, including all three District 5 representatives.
Although the draft ordinance calls for the reapportionment to follow certification of the November election results, Chairman Dan Cronin said the members could choose to draw their respective terms as soon as the ordinance is approved and the groups have been set.
“That way as you’re campaigning, you can say, ‘I’m running for a two-year term,’ or whatever the case may be,” he said. “It’s up to you.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Board - Made Up of the Usual Suspects

How many boards does DuPage County need? This board is made up of all the usual suspects including the DuPage County Board members and DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference.  


Contact Information: Johnna Kelly 630-407-6022
Thursday, August 09, 2012

McBride Appointed Chairman of ETSB

County Board member JR McBride (District 4) was recently appointed by the DuPage County Board to serve as the new chairman of the Emergency Telephone Service Board (ETSB).
Chairman Dan Cronin said McBride will work directly with County and municipal emergency personnel in the coordination and maintenance of the 911 system.
“I am confident JR will provide the leadership skills necessary to modernize the 911 system and enhance this very important public safety tool,” he said.
McBride, who has served on the County Board since 2006, will begin his term as chairman of ETSB on Friday, August 10. He will fill the vacancy created by Patrick O’Shea, who resigned as chairman.
Funding for the agency will be a major issue in the forefront for McBride and ETSB. Currently cellular phone users are charged a 73-cent surcharge through the Wireless Emergency Telephone System Act, however, that surcharge is expected to sunset in April 2013.
“The sunset of the surcharge is a concern for all emergency personnel around the state since we rely heavily on that funding to provide 911-related functions for public safety such as dispatch services, infrastructure and equipment,” he said.
Without the funding, McBride said the costs would be passed on to local public safety entities such as the DuPage County Sheriff.
McBride, who also serves as chairman of the Legislative Committee, said the County will work with state legislators to pass a bill through the Illinois General Assembly that would provide stable funding for the emergency system.
ETSB is made up of eight board members from the DuPage County Board, DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, DuPage Fire Chief’s Association, DuPage Chief of Police Association, DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, DuPage Public Safety Communications (DU-COMM), DuPage County Office of Emergency Management and one citizen representative.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cronin, Pierotti Secret Meeting

H/T to Steve Leopoldo Candidate for DuPage Forest Preserve, District 3  

Cronin, Pierotti quietly huddle, then scuttle county-forest merger

By Robert Sanchez and Andrew Schroedter
A topic of discussion during a recent secret, top-level meeting was the possible undoing of a decade-old split between the DuPage County Board and forest preserve commission.
Yet the leaders of both independent governmental entities — county board Chairman Dan Cronin and forest preserve district President D. Dewey Pierotti — are in dispute over who suggested the consolidation idea. And both now say they’re not in favor of re-creating a combined county and forest preserve agency.

Word of the meeting, which happened last month, comes as the forest preserve is under scrutiny on several fronts, including a county and federal investigation of contract steering.
Pierotti and Cronin both acknowledge the meeting occurred and that a variety of issues were discussed, including consolidation. While they disagree on who brought up the subject of consolidation, the fact that it was mentioned at all is a possible sign the forest preserve’s ongoing troubles could result in a change to the way it has operated for a decade.
“To be clear and unequivocal about this, I am not proposing that,” Cronin said of folding the forest preserve commission back into the county board. “I am not pursuing it.”
“They are a separate unit of government,” he said. “I can’t propose they consolidate unless the idea comes from them.”
Pierotti, meanwhile, insists the historic split the commission made from the county board in 2002 has been a success, despite allegations being probed by the FBI and DuPage County state’s attorney’s office that two former employees steered computer work to a firm that benefited them.
“We’re a well-run government agency,” he says. “We have a balanced budget and provide the services that DuPage taxpayers want.”
The state legislature approved the separation in 1996 because of concerns county board members couldn’t “serve two masters,” says state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who co-sponsored the bill.
Before the change took effect in 2002, the county board members served simultaneously as forest preserve commissioners, roles that some said carried an inherent conflict between the county’s development interests and the forest commission’s environmental mission.
One example of such conflict commonly cited involved Diehl Road, which was allowed to be built through McDowell Grove Forest Preserve near Naperville. Controversy also flared when the combined county board and forest district voted to extend the life of the two now-closed landfills, Greene Valley near Naperville and Mallard Lake near Bloomingdale and Hanover Park.
The legislation cut the county board’s size from 24 members to 18 and created the six-member forest preserve commission.
But since the split, development in DuPage has slowed and available land is scarce. What’s more, the forest preserve has run into trouble during the past year, making it politically vulnerable.
Opponents, including local Democratic candidates, criticize the district for spending tax dollars on a public relations firm and hoarding cash; its reserves now stand at $243.6 million, although more than half that is earmarked for potential environmental remediation at the landfills.
Also, the state’s attorney’s office has been looking into allegations that the two former district employees steered more than $488,000 worth of contracts to a Chicago technology firm. Earlier this month, the Daily Herald and BGA reported the FBI had joined the probe. No charges have been filed.
Pierotti says he understands why Cronin could want to bring the forest preserve back under county control as the chairman looks for ways to streamline government. He said Cronin “has the political connections in Springfield” to ask state lawmakers to undo the split.
But Cronin insists he’s not pursuing any kind of merger or consolidation with the forest preserve. In fact, he said, it would be “extremely difficult” to do.
“The only way you could even approach that subject matter is (if there was) some very compelling reason,” said Cronin, adding others “would have to lead the charge.”
Dillard said county leaders haven’t approached him about a possible reunification. He wouldn’t be opposed to the measure but said, “I do think it makes sense to have a separate forest preserve from an environmental standpoint.”
If the agencies did merge, Dillard said the county board should not increase in size by adding the six forest preserve board seats to the dais.
The county board already has 18 members who are paid more than $50,000 a year and qualify for taxpayer-subsidized pensions if they meet certain criteria. Adding the forest preserve’s six commissioners would be unruly, Dillard said.
Cronin said he has no intention of getting involved with the forest preserve, especially before the results of the criminal investigation are released.
“If a bunch of problems are discovered and there’s some compelling reason to have a discussion about reforming the governing structure of the forest preserve, I would be happy to participate in that discussion,” Cronin said. “But I am not going to get involved with the forest preserve at this stage because they’ve got some issues and problems that they need to be held accountable for.”
• Andrew Schroedter is a reporter for the Better Government Association. Robert Sanchez is a Daily Herald staff writer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Humanitarian Service Project - Donations Needed

By Staff reports
Posted Aug 07, 2012 @ 10:35 AM

Carol Stream, IL —
DuPage County’s Humanitarian Service Project (HSP) is asking the residents of DuPage and Kane counties to donate necessary personal care items for senior citizens.
Greatly needed items include soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and lip balm. Additional items of interest accepted are donations of cough drops, teas and hot chocolates, dish soap, stamps, greeting cards, puzzle books, vitamins and ensure.
The Humanitarian Service Project’s SCP, serves 120 seniors living in poverty within the DuPage and Kane counties. Not only do the seniors receive personal care items they could otherwise not afford, but they also receive monthly deliveries of 90 pounds of groceries. 
For more information about the Senior Citizen Project, and HSP’s other projects, call the Humanitarian Service Project at (630) 221-8340 or click

Thursday, August 2, 2012

FBI Joins probe of DuPage Forest District Contracts

DuPage County come November 6, 2012 there is an opportunity for real change.  Please consider voting for Steve Leopoldo DuPage Forest Preserve, District 3, Don Kirchenberg DuPage Forest Preserve, District 2, Sharon Bryant DuPage County, District 3 and Liz Chaplin DuPage County Board District 2.

FBI joins probe of DuPage forest district contracts
By Andrew Schroedter and Elisabeth Mistretta
The FBI has joined an investigation into allegations that DuPage County Forest Preserve District contracts were steered to a Chicago-based technology firm, benefiting two former district employees.
The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office has been looking into the matter for months, but now officials confirm the federal law enforcement agency’s involvement, the Better Government Association has learned.
Meanwhile, the forest preserve district has given a severance bonus of about $51,000 to former Executive Director Brent Manning who retired June 15 after more than eight years with the district.
Manning’s employment contract states he should receive a lump sum totaling four months of salary only if he was terminated “without cause.”
But Manning, 59, wasn’t pushed out the door, officials say.
Instead, board members voluntarily gave Manning the bonus, even though the technology contracts in question were awarded on his watch, forest preserve President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr. says.
“Brent deserves part of the blame, as do other employees,” he said. “But we still felt he deserved this. It was giving him special recognition for all he had done.”
When Manning announced his retirement in May, Pierotti outlined several of the director’s accomplishments, including helping the district maintain a AAA bond rating, maintaining a head count at or below 2003 levels, developing fundraising that resulted in a new foundation to support the forest preserve, and building a new archery area with handicapped-accessible fishing pier at Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville and an Urban Stream Research Center, also in Warrenville.
Altogether, Manning, who was paid $165,000 a year, will have received nearly $74,000 in post-retirement payments when he gets his final check in August. The figure includes the severance pay, plus payments of $11,364 and $11,840 for unused sick and vacation time, according to the district.
Manning acknowledged meeting with the FBI, but declined to divulge any details.
Officials have said Manning doesn’t appear to be a target of the probe, which centers on allegations that two now-former forest preserve district administrators personally benefited from steering contracts to Chicago-based Alamach Technologies Inc.
The Better Government Association and the Daily Herald are not naming the former employees, who worked in the Information Technology department, because they haven’t been charged with a crime. They haven’t worked for the forest preserve since November when one resigned and one was fired, officials say.
Alamach was paid to perform consulting and other technology-related services, according to the district. Between November 2009 and October 2011, public records show the forest preserve paid Alamach at least $488,000 for services, according to forest commission agendas.
Records show Alamach was dissolved May 4. Attempts to reach the venture’s members were unsuccessful.
The FBI is “part of the investigation,” Pierotti said, along with the state’s attorney’s office. A spokeswoman in the FBI’s Chicago office declined to comment, as did a spokesman for DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.
Manning said heat from the probe didn’t lead him to retire — his reasons included family and health-related issues — though he acknowledges his last year on the job was tumultuous.
“Right now I need some time for recuperation,” he said.
• Andrew Schroedter is a reporter for the Better Government Association. Elisabeth Mistretta is a Daily Herald staff writer.

Ethics Policy Change

I give Chairman Cronin credit for making needed changes.  Your ethics policy is only as strong as those willing to enforce it. 

Article updated: 8/1/2012 5:30 PM

DuPage election panel considers ethics change

The DuPage County Election Commission is expected to vote Thursday on an agreement to give the county authority to handle future ethics complaints filed against the agency.
If the election board approves a memorandum of understanding with the county, the commission will become the first local agency to agree to use the DuPage County Ethics Commission and the county’s investigator general to review complaints.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said he’s “delighted” about the arrangement, which he hopes is adopted by other local government entities.
“It’s vitally important that the election commission have the faith, trust and confidence of the public because of the nature of its business (overseeing) elections,” Cronin said.
A recent series of consultant reports found a number of agencies in the county either had no ethics rules or “substandard” policies, according to Cronin.
“There wasn’t a clear message to employees about where they go and what they do in the event they witness something that was improper,” he said.
In June, the county board took steps to help county-appointed agencies bring their ethics policies in line with the county’s ethics policy.
To date, eight agencies have adopted the county’s ethics ordinance, including the DuPage Airport Authority, Naperville Fire Protection District, West Chicago Fire Protection District and Wheaton Sanitary District.
But the election commission would be the first to take the extra step of using the county’s bipartisan ethics panel on an as-needed basis.
The commission also would use the investigator general, who is responsible for receiving and reviewing ethics complaints. He acts as the prosecutor of a complaint if there’s a hearing.
Cronin said he is committed to having the county’s ethics commission, which hasn’t had a hearing in three years, be more active.
“We are going to be a model of how ethics are administered,” Cronin said. “It doesn’t make sense to have a patchwork of different policies. It’s too complicated.”