Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"No" Vote on the 2016 DuPage County Budget

Today I voted "No" on the 2016 DuPage County Budget.

I voted "No" because the taxpayers are paying $5800 a year for car stipends for the DuPage County Chairman, Clerk, The Circuit Clerk, Treasurer, Recorder of Deeds, Auditor, Coroner and the Regional Superintendent of Schools.

I voted "No" because we have too many lobbyists.

I voted "No" because we handed our lobbyists no bid contracts.

I voted " No" because although we budget for part time and temporary employees year after year, the head count does not include these two groups.

I voted "No" because I could find no evidence of any meetings of the Working Group. The chairman formed the Working Group in 2013 to examine if savings could be found between the Election Commission and the Clerks Office.

I voted "No" because the tax payers are paying for an Election Commission they do not need.

I voted "No" today because I took the time to send questions to the chairman only to receive a scathing response that included no answers.

You can read my budget questions along with the chairman's response below.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

National Disaster Resiliency Competition - Lisle

DuPage County is eligible to receive funding from the HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) as a competitive application process under NDRC. CDBG-NDRC will award up to $1 billion to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years. DuPage County submitted the Phase 1 application in March, and, in late June, the County was notified that they would be advancing to Phase 2. Locally, DuPage County identified the Village of Lisle and the broader East Branch DuPage River Watershed as having the largest amount of unmet needs from the April 2013 flood.

For Phase 1, DuPage County developed the East Branch DuPage River Watershed and Resiliency Plan.  In Phase 2, the County developed conceptual projects to determine the funding request from HUD. 

The County is ultimately requesting nearly $50 million from HUD for the project approach with the best and lowest overall cost, which would involve property acquisition. Is it important to note that these are conceptual projects with no formal assessments included. The County’s process for projects in a watershed plan, involves public meetings, one on one consultation with property owners affected by a potential project and a vote by the Stormwater Management Planning Committee and the DuPage County Board. 

I will do my best to keep the residents of Lisle informed and alert you to any changes that may occur.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DuPage County Keeps Lobbyists for Another Year

The Daily Herald reports the following:

DuPage Keeping Lobbyists for Another Year

Robert Sanchez
August 25, 2105

DuPage County officials defended the county's use of lobbyists before awarding nearly $300,000 in contracts to several firms.
"As the second-largest county in Illinois with nearly 1 million residents, it is critically important that the county maintain an effective presence in both Washington, D.C. and Springfield," county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

On Tuesday, county board members voted 15-1 to spend $260,000 to keep three lobbying firms for another year.

Two of the firms -- All-Circo Inc. and V.A. Persico Consulting Inc. -- are pushing the county's legislative agenda in Springfield. The third firm, BGR Government Affairs LLC, lobbies on the federal level.

DuPage also will contribute $24,000 to help pay McGuire Woods Consulting, which represents the county board and the DuPage County Health Department at the state level.

That expenditure didn't require a county board vote because it's less than $25,000, officials said.

Board member Elizabeth Chaplin cast the only vote against the contracts for the lobbying firms.

"I don't see the value," she said. "I think as county board members we can take a more active working with our own representatives and save the taxpayers money."

You can read the Full Daily Herald story 

DuPage County has a presence in Springfield and Washington, they are called elected officials. It is the job of the elected officials to represent the needs of the people in their district.  It is the job the of elected officials to advocate on behalf of the residents and ensure they deliver state and federal funding for capital projects,  social services, the health department, public safety, ect. 

In Kane County the Legislative Committee acts as their own lobbyists. Kane County is spending zero dollars on lobbyists.  Will County spends $40,000 on their lobbyists.  

Lobbyists by the numbers:

V.A. Persico                   $60,000

All-Circo                        $120,000

McGuire Woods              $24,000

BGR Government Affairs  $80,000 

Total                               $284,000.00

DuPage County Representatives by the numbers:

13 Illinois House Members

9   Illinois Senate Members

8 Federal Representatives

18 County Board Members

1  County Chairman

Total :  49

You can learn more about Kane County Lobbying  efforts here.

You can learn more about Will County Lobbyists here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

DuPage Convalescent Center

Based on my own research and conclusions I did not support the $99,500 contract to CGR for the assessment of the DuPage Convalescent Center.  

The Daily Reports the following:

DuPage hopes to improve, not sell, convalescent center

Robert Sanchez

With the uncertainty of funding from the state and federal governments, DuPage officials say they want to identify operational and revenue changes that "support a financially sustainable model that can continue to meet the needs of an underserved population."

So the county board agreed to hire the Center for Governmental Research to perform an in-depth assessment of the convalescent center.

Since counties aren't required to operate a convalescent center, there have been politicians through the years who have proposed the DuPage center be sold or turned over to a private management company.

County board member Liz Chaplin said she's worried that could happen again because there have been instances when the Center for Governmental Research recommended other counties sell their nursing homes.

Full article can be found here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Conflict of Interest DuPage County Style

Citing conflict of interest during the March 24, 2015 meeting of the DuPage County Board I was the only member to vote NO on the appointment of Nancy Wolfe as the Inspector General.
How can anyone remain impartial when making possible judgements against those that treated her so well and allowed for such a generous benefit package?
The Chicago Tribune reports the following:

Pension boost tactic sidesteps laws to cost taxpayers millions

Joe Mahr, Chicago Tribune
5:31 am, August 15, 2015

Conflicts of interests?

What happened in DuPage County also highlights how those with major financial stakes in the tactic can be close to the discussion over its survival.
Records show that Thomas Downing in 2010 oversaw the state's attorney's office division responsible for crafting board opinions. The board member who pushed the 2010 proposal, John Curran, said Downing at times was assigned to help the committee that debated the ordinance.
Downing retired in 2013. The perk boosted his starting pension from about $69,000 a year to $82,000. Downing declined comment.
Nancy Wolfe oversaw Downing as the first assistant in the office. She retired earlier this year, with the timing of end-of-career payouts boosting her pension by 18 percent. Wolfe said she played no direct role in the opinion and, regardless, would never slant an opinion to benefit her personally. The current state's attorney, Robert Berlin, and former state's attorney, Joe Birkett, said Wolfe and Downing did nothing improper.
Birkett, now an appellate court judge, reviewed and signed the opinion, and he defended his office's handling of the measure. But he said he understands how it could raise questions of a potential conflict of interest. He said he would have sought an outside legal review if the county board had asked.
"I think that's a valid point. Anybody could have raised it at the time. Nobody did," he said.
Curran, the board member who pushed the reform proposal, said he felt it would have been useless because, if someone sues, the state's attorney's office decides how to handle the lawsuit.
The full article can be found here.
The Video from the March 24th DuPage County Board meeting can be here Video.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Morton Arboretum

Recently the DuPage County Board Members from District 2 and District 4 visited The Morton Arboretum.  President and CEO, Gerry Donnelly, and Bob Schillerstrom a member of the Board of  Trustees welcomed us and lead the interesting and informative discussion.   

The Morton Arboretum was established in 1922 by the Morton Family.  The Arboretum has 1700 acres of plants, gardens, woodlands, prairie, lakes and streams.  With 4,200 kind of trees from around the world, 16 miles of trails and 9 miles of paved roads, it makes a great place to escape from the stress of everyday life. There is a 4 acre Children's Garden and is the most visited arboretum in North America.

World renowned for scientific leadership with a team of 25 PhD researchers and staff scientists, the Arboretum is also home to a state-of-the-art Research Center.

One of the leading Arboretums of the world in size, age, plant collection, science and conservation.  DuPage County is very fortunate to be home to such a unique and remarkable place.

Below you will find a video that gives a brief overview of The Morton Arboretum:

You can learn more about the Arboretum here.

You can learn more about the District 2 members here and District 4 members here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

DuPage County Stormwater Management Monitoring Precipitation Monday Afternoon

Du Page County 
421 N. County Farm Road Wheaton, Illinois 60187 630-407-6060 
Websitewww.dupageco.org s Twitter:  @dupagecounty s Facebook:  DuPage County Board
For Immediate Release                                                                                                    
June 15, 2015                                                                                                               
DuPage County Stormwater Management Monitoring Precipitation Monday Afternoon
Wheaton, IL – DuPage County Stormwater Management is notifying local agencies of forecasted precipitation throughout the area Monday afternoon through the evening. Parts of DuPage County have received more than 2 inches of rainfall beginning late Sunday evening. The National Weather Service’s forecasts indicate an additional three-fourths of an inch of rain will fall in the area through Monday evening.
Stream elevations on the West Branch DuPage River are within one foot of the trigger operation for Fawell Dam (Naperville). Combined with existing rainfall, forecasts indicate an operation of Fawell Dam early Monday evening. On Salt Creek, the Elmhurst Quarry Flood Control Facility and Spring Creek Reservoir (Bloomingdale) are also within one foot of operation. If rainfall is heavier or more intense than forecasted, these facilities may go into operation. Also on Salt Creek, the Wood Dale-Itasca Reservoir (Wood Dale) is three feet from operation, but is not anticipated to go into operation during this event. DuPage County’s 12 gravity operated facilities are operating as needed. County staff is also monitoring precipitation and inflow from the upper reaches of each of the watersheds, which may contribute to increased stream elevations aside from the forecasted rainfall in the area.
DuPage County Stormwater Management staff will monitor stream elevations throughout the event and will provide updates as they become available. Be advised that the area is under a flash flood watch through late Monday.
Local agencies and residents may visit ec.dupageco.org/dec/stormwater/watershed/index.html for more information about flood control facilities throughout the County, as well as to view rain and stream gages, forecasts and real-time pictures.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Villa Park Citizen Fire Academy 2015

The Villa Park Fire Department holds a Citizens Fire Academy once a year.  The Academy runs for nine weeks with a well prepared agenda. During the nine weeks students are doing all things related to firefighting. Working with the men and women of the fire department, they cover many interesting topics including Department History, Fire Science, Engine Operations, Emergency Medical Services, CPR /AED Certification, Hands on and Practical Training, Special Operations and Vehicle Rescue. 

The Academy offers hands on experience.  Becoming CPR/AED certified,  going into a building that is on fire and taking a part a vehicle, allows for a better  understanding of the variety of skills needed to be a firefighter. 

The Citizens Fire Academy Program is a great way to become better informed about firefighters and what they do and to build a relationship with our public safety officials.

Below is a  video from the Villa Park Citizen Fire Academy 2015.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tools for Schools

Tools for Schools (TFS) provides a place where individuals and businesses can donate school supplies or office supplies. Schools and non-profit organizations supporting children choose needed items. Children get school supplies, teachers get equipment for their classrooms, and it is all diverted from the landfill. There is a wide range of supplies collected and re-distributed at SCARCE. Microscopes and overhead projectors are always popular items that are snapped up quickly. Usually there is a constant flow of notebooks, paper, pencils, and many types of office supplies.  The inventory changes daily.

   You can learn more about the 
                   program here.

Lift & Move - Crane industry to give careers a lift

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Free For Veterans and Families


When:   Thursday July 2nd, 2015 From 4pm – 8pm
Where:  Kids Town Play and Party
1141 E. Butterfield Rd
Wheaton, IL 60187

Kids Town is a new exciting and unique place to take your children that offers a safe and entertaining play place with more than a dozen themed play areas that feature colorful decor, costumes, accessories and toys to encourage your child's imagination. Everything from a construction room to a princess room are certain to offer an unforgettable experience for all children. It is a great place to take kids for everyday fun or for special occasions such as birthdays and play groups.

Every child will receive a Balloon, Thomas the Train Ride, Bubbles Show 
Adults can enjoy a Music Show including Keyboard and Guitar, Complementary Coffee. 
RSVP Required by June 22, 2015.

Pat Wasisco Psy.D. DuPage Vet Center 630.585.1853
Jim Gilligan, LCSW Oak Park Vet Center 708.457.8805

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Consolidation efforts a great step forward for DuPage

Thank you, State Senator Chirs Nybo, for believing that the idea of consolidating the DuPage County Election Commission back to the county clerk's office has merit.  With your help, others are understanding the issue and recognizing the merit as well.

From the Suburban Life editorial board

And now, state Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, and Democratic DuPage County Board member Liz Chaplin are teaming up to ask Sanguinetti’s task force to consider eliminating the DuPage Election Commission. In most other counties in Illinois, elections are run by the county clerk’s office. “We’ve merely asked at this point that the government task force look at that issue and determine whether there is a cost savings there that can enhance accountability and other efficiencies in terms of personnel,” Nybo said. Those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking all across the county and the state.

You can read the full editorial here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Pace Riders

The Illinois Department of Transportation is holding a series of informal public meetings throughout the state to establish priorities for future investment in the state’s priorities for  the State’s transportation system.

DuPage County's scheduled meeting is May 11th at 10:00 a.m. at the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce, 306 Main St, West Chicago

Saturday, April 25, 2015

DuPage County Human Race

The rain did not stop the people of DuPage County from getting out early this morning to walk or run in support of the many non-profits throughout the county.

This is the third year my family and I have participated in the race. Each year we have supported a different non-profit organization. This year we walked with our good friends from the DuPage Railroad Safety Council.  The DuPage Railroad Safety Council is made of railroad officials, government officials, engineers, educators and private citizens who have a deep concern for safety at railroad crossings. The Council was founded on April 30, 1994 as an outgrowth of a Railroad Safety Conference called by the Chairman of the DuPage County Board. Since that time, the Council has met regularly to examine ways to heighten awareness and improve safety conditions at railroad crossings and to work with civic and railroad leaders to stop preventable accidents along railroad right of ways.

You can read more on the DRSC here.

Liz ( DRSC member) and Brian Chaplin, VM, Ellena and Grace Chaplin
Jim and Jackie Speta, Dr. Lanny Wilson, Debbie Hare, Steve Laffy and Dave Mantune
DuPage Railroad Safety Committee
You can learn more about the Human Race here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


SPRINGFIELD – DuPage County Board member Liz Chaplin (D-Downers Grove) and State Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) are working to streamline local government and reduce taxpayer costs by exploring whether to return the electoral process to the DuPage County Clerk’s office.

Chaplin and Nybo are asking that the issue be considered by the Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force chaired by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti.  The electoral process in every other county in Illinois is administered by the County Clerk’s office.

“DuPage County is one of just a few counties with an independent Election Commission and electoral process,” Chaplin said. “We are recommending that the election board be appointed by their representative parties at their bi-annual convention making the process open, fair and transparent. The people of DuPage need to be a part of the electoral process.”

A report authorized by DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin acknowledged the “overlap of administrative positions” between the Clerk’s office and the Election Commission.

“Citizens in other counties have a say in the electoral process, and the citizens of DuPage should be afforded the same opportunity. Plus, the higher costs associated with duplicated administrative costs are not an efficient way to run government,” Nybo said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner created the Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force to identify ways to help local governments consolidate and eliminate duplicate governmental bodies, school districts and taxing authorities. Streamlining these services will help prevent waste and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently. It will also find ways to reduce the number of unfunded mandates the state imposes on local communities.

The task force is comprised of municipal and county leaders, representatives of school districts, state legislators, and experts in consolidation. They represent all areas of Illinois, and both political parties.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

DuPage Water Commission to Reduce Water Rate to Municipalities

Just learned yesterday that the DuPage Water Commission will be reducing the water rate to the municipalities by .10 cents per thousand gallons, that is a big reduction.  How was the water commission able to have such a large surplus?  Did they learn nothing from past experience? Will the saving be passed on to the end user, the taxpayer?

You can find more on the history of the water commission herehere and here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DuPage County Election Commission Protest

"Why do I keep finding out things in the media which should have been brought to the attention of County Board members first?"

From today's DailyHerald

Thursday, February 19, 2015

ACT Initiative 9 Million in ERP Savings Initiated By Former Chairman Schillerstrom

The 9 million dollars in projected savings over 20 years from the implementation of the ERP Software Application under the ACT Initiative is an inaccurate statement. The implementation of the ERP Software Application was initiated by former DuPage County Chairman Robert Schillerstrom in 2010, under his initiative called Investing In Today; Building For Tomorrow. The ACT Initiative was presented to the DuPage County Board in 2012.

In 2010 the county was in need of some very important capital investments.  The projects included transportation and storm water projects, as well as repairs to the convalescence center and the jail. Other projects included campus emergency generators and new information technology improvements to replace the out of date system that was 30 years old.

The County was in a unique position to substantially reduce the costs of financing the 69.7 million needed for these projects.  The County was able to reduce the costs of the financing  by taking advantage of the limited federal subsidies at reduced interest costs.    The County's AAA rating allowed them to secure bonds that kept the debt service low.

By taking the lead with this opportunity the County was able to fund many projects and save money in the process.  Included in the initiative was the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  The system integrated sets of software applications that were used to manage assets, financial resources and human resources. 

In 2010 Dan Cronin opposed the 69 million dollar bond purchase. He spoke against the bond purchase at the September 7, 2010 meeting, the minutes are provided here.  Today he is taking credit under his ACT Initiative for unrealized "future" savings of 9 million over 20 years, with a 7.1 million ERP project, still not complete, funded with a 69 million dollar bond purchase he did not support.

The below reference paragraph is from the Investing In Today; Building For Tomorrow 2010 Fact Sheet


Project Description: An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is defined as an integrated set of software applications used to manage tangible assets, financial resources and human resources. This common architecture is designed to facilitate the flow of information between business units. An ERP is built on a central database utilizing a common computing platform. An integrated enterprise system will bring about greater transparency, meeting new accountability demands and the ability for viewers to easily follow the lifecycle of a county contract, increase efficiencies and productivity of staff, manage grants and provide for faster, more accurate government reporting. Future costs will also be reduced through the consolidation of numerous systems and servers into one common platform. Reduction in costs through the elimination of redundant software licenses, and less expensive hardware will also save the county money. If this project is delayed, the county will incur increased software and hardware support costs due to the need to continue servicing obsolete systems. Total project costs 7.1 million.

ACT Projected Savings

You can find the Investing In Today; Building For Tomorrow 2010 Fact Sheet here.
You can find the ERP Planning Document Update from July 2012 here.
To watch the video from the September 7, 2010 by using the provided link here.
You can read more on this topic here and here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

ACT Initiative Savings Being Taken at Face Value

The news has been covering the 116.4 million savings DuPage County has declared since implementing the ACT Initiative in 2012.  The Appointed Agency total savings projection is 50 million (Appointed Agencies are those in which the chairman appoints members to board and/or commissions). This includes 1.9 million in annual operating expenses from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District. DuPage County is taking these savings at face value, something I have challenged.

In 2012, Crowe Horwath was hired by DuPage County Board to conduct an assessment of the LWFD.  Recommendations from the report included the following:

Develop a Financial Plan

Develop a Capital Plan 

Increase Transparency and Accountability

The report stresses the following:

"The Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District is considered a stable organization that is showing indications of decline if it does not act soon to develop plans to ensure its sustainability, to establish fund balance reserve policies and to develop a formal capital plan. The District must also address pension and OPEB funding issues to manage these costs to ensure they do not escalate out of control."

To my knowledge there is no financial plan.

In June of 2014, Moody's (The purpose of Moody's ratings is to provide investors with a simple system of gradation by which future relative creditworthiness of securities may be gauged.) downgraded the LWFD rating, two years after the Crowe Horwath report stated the LWFD needed to "act soon."

"The Aa3 issuer rating reflects a recent trend of underfunding annual pension payments, highlighting the financial risk stemming from the district's elevated pension liabilities and statutory requirements that require the district to fully fund its employer contributions. Additionally, the rating incorporates the district's sizeable tax base located in Du Page County (Aaa) in the Chicago (Baa1 negative) metro area; sizable operating reserves and healthy cash balances; and manageable debt profile with a minimal direct debt burden and no expectation to issue additional debt in the foreseeable future. The A1 rating on the GOLT Notes is notched once off the district's issuer rating and reflects the inherently weaker security, which does not benefit from a dedicated property tax levy."

Although the LWFD (Lisle-Woodridge Fire District) is asserting 1.9 million in annual savings from operating expenses, that does not include the massive unfunded pension liability. Employee benefits including pension contributions should be included in the operating expenses.  Are there actual savings in operations or has the pension obligation been moved to another line item in the budget?

Despite having a new board appointed after the Crowe Horwath report,  the new board has voted to increase the tax levy and budget expenditures in 2012, 2013 and 2014. 

The financial stability of the LWFD has not improved. The lack of a financial plan as recommended by the Crowe Horwath report, the Moody's downgrade, the increase in the property tax levy, and budget expenditures does not bode well for the LWFD. 

"What are the net savings to the taxpayer?". This is a question I have posed to DuPage County.

ACT Initiative Projected Savings

LWFD Property Tax Levies and Collections

LWFD Expenditure Summary by Fund FY 2013-2015

You can find Crowe Horwath Assessment here.

You can find Moody's Rating here.