A lot has certainly happened over the last month. I wanted to recap a few things for my readers, and fellow citizens of the Village of Carpentersville and to provide a final thought before the election.
1. Despite a very desperate attempt by the Incumbent Trustees, Mr. Burroway and Mr. Humpfer, along with assistance from the Illinois Policy Institute, the “loophole” which they believe they have found isn’t actually one at all. You see, municipal employees like myself have had the ability to run for office since October 30th, 1985 when Public Act 84-1018 was passed.
At the time, Firefighters were covered under 2 different acts, depending on where they were working. One type worked for a municipality (like me) and the others worked for Fire Protection Districts. The problem with the above law, is that while it protected municipal employees political rights, it didn’t give Fire Protection District employees the same rights. So, in 2005, 20 years later, the legislature guaranteed that firefighters in fire protection districts were granted the same rights as those in municipalities. That is why it’s given it’s own place in the law – because Firefighters are employed by more than one type of unit of government. (50 ILCS 135) So, you see, what the Illinois Policy Institute calls a loophole, is actually a glaringly obvious lack of knowledge of both history AND research into the laws of Illinois. The other question I have about this: the Mayor of Joliet was an active firefighter when he ran and won, a City Council member in Elgin was an active firefighter when he ran and won – why didn’t the Illinois Policy Institute pick up on these during their elections? Somehow they miraculously picked NOW to do a story on it? Does anyone believe that our Incumbent Trustees (or their supporters) had nothing to do with it? I don’t. It does makes for a great political stunt though!
What’s worse: YOUR Trustees are supposed to know the local laws – the Illinois Municipal Code governs what they can and cannot do. Not only that, they are sworn to uphold the laws. They are sworn to uphold my right to run for election, whether they like it or not. Just as if I’m elected and you the residents tell me you don’t want your Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department etc. better funded, I might not agree with you, but it will be my responsibility to vote the way my electors want. The difference is: I will make sure you have access to the whole story and all the information you need to make an informed decision.
It’s why the participation of some current Board members who aren’t running in this election is such a conflict of interest! The clear lack of knowledge and research into the issue represent a very real example of the problem: They talk without any real knowledge or understanding of the issues at hand, relying on others to form their opinions for them. They simply relied on another group, and then sent out IN MASS information which they should have reasonably known was wrong. THIS is your Government, THIS is your Incumbents. And Incumbents: It’s too late to play ignorant, it’s too late to say “I didn’t write the IPI article.” You printed it, you stuffed into in campaign door hangers, and you went door to door hanging it.
2. Your Village President, Ed Ritter, the head of the local election commission, felt it necessary, without any proof, to intentionally LIE to the public when he said that I (and MY group, didn’t know I had a group) was being funded by a local business owner and sent that bold faced lie to the Daily Herald in the form of a Letter to the Editor. This isn’t just an ethical dilemma, it’s a violation of the voter’s trust. And frankly, I think he needs to step down as Village President. How does he expect us to believe him when he says the board is “Neutral” when he clearly doesn’t act like it? It makes me wonder even more why it is that this board is so petrified that some free thinking people will get elected to the board.
3. I’d like to take a moment to thank Trustee Burroway. His “Snapshot” idea provides the citizens with the data that actually proves what I’ve been saying all along! In September of 2013, the average response time of the fire department for calls was 4:06. In December, just 3 months after implementation of the new “staffing model,” that number was up to 4:20
As of February 15th, 2015: 5:03
So here it is … the proof is in the pudding. The Trustees, the Village Manager, even the Director of Public Safety tell you THEY are tracking the numbers, and they are looking good! Well, does consistently increasing response times look good to you? It doesn’t take a college education and experience in emergency response to realize that the longer it takes the worse the turnout for YOU. It isn’t like your Trustees can claim ignorance. We’ve been telling them this for over a year and half. They said we don’t need more people, their grant application says otherwise. The Deputy Chief (now the Fire Chief) says our response is fine – his email says IF we get the safer grant we’ll be closer to where we should be. Too many different stories coming out of village hall. No, it’s beyond ignorance. These are the folks you elect. They say they care about us, but why so steadfastly deny their own numbers – WHY?
4. Here’s the next question: Our Trustees are quick to explain the tax rate increases: Pensions & EAV Drops. And it is all very complicated. But let’s make it simple. In 2008 our Tax Revenue was 19 million for the General Fund. Last year: 26 million. Here’s the thing – if the Tax rate increases were to keep the income steady – then we’d still be right around 19 million, right? And I doubt that pension increases account for 7 million dollars extra. No, in order for such a dramatic increase to occur in the general fund, a good portion of the homeowners saw a tax increase for the Village’s portion of their bill. We’ve also gone from a contingency fund less than 19% to one that is 28% – 8% HIGHER than the board goal of 20%. Add in 30 employees less and 300% increase in debt.
Budget surplus, increased debt, 7 million in extra revenue – do these things jive with what you are being told by the Trustees? Just to account for the EAV drop and Pensions? Maybe I’m too skeptical, but frankly – I think it’s pretty clear that things aren’t adding up. In my experience, smooth, scripted answers usually aren’t a good sign.
5. One of the most common things I’ve heard from both residents and businesses over the last month of campaigning is: inconsistent application of the ordinances. From decks to business licenses, the process is clearly difficult and filled with too many varying answers. We MUST fix our foundation. All the new in the world isn’t going to help us.
This election is about more than numbers and information. It’s about the Truth. We the residents deserve the truth, we deserve to be heard. i don’t want partial truths, I don’t want to listen to Trustees whose rhetoric differs than Village Documents. If our taxes are going to go up, we deserve to be told about it – and to have everything explained. If I’m going to pay more, I’m not going to accept getting less for it. I might accept getting MORE for it, but certainly not less.
One final thought, and this one is a fire department / budget thing: Did you know that the Village Administration has over a million dollars budgeted in the Enterprise (water/sewer) Fund? Add that into what is in the General Fund and you have equal amounts with the fire department. Now, take away 1 million from the Fire Department budget – because that is paid for by the Fire Protection District residents, and then take away another 500,000 due to ambulance billing collection, and you are left with a total taxpayer dollar cost of about 3.3 million. 3.3 Million for your medical and fire safety. As a Village, we pay 2.8 million for garbage collection, just 500k shy of the whole fire department. The Fire Department’s budget: over a million less than Administration costs the taxpayers. That is almost unheard of in Villages. Think about this as you go to the polls – as a Village, we spend more money handling your money and telling you what you can/can’t do with your property than we do providing medical and fire safety for you.
Join me on Tuesday to tell our Village – it’s time for some serious changes!