Better Government Association Watchdog Training

Last night the citizens of DuPage County had the rare opportunity to attend watchdog training by the Better Government Association held in DuPage.  The evening started off with an excellent presentation from Andy Shaw.  The energy in the room was amazing.  The speakers used lots of humor and related well to the audience.

The BGA has done many investigations in DuPage County.  Many of the investigations tie into my recent statement of candidacy.

BGA has investigated Double Dipping in DuPage County (October 15, 2011) Several county board members draw public-sector salaries and stand to draw dual pensions.

Protecting a Perk in DuPage (December 19, 2011) DuPage County Board members could have taken a big step towards halting their taxpayer funded pensions, but opted to keep the potentially lucrative benefit.

DuPage Stormwater Director Backed Contracts for Firm Employing his Wife (September 16, 2011)  The stormwater management headed by Anthony Charlton, has recommended Wills Burke Kelsey, which employ’s Charlton’s wife, as a consultant for stomwater projects totaling $534,209.00.

Law Firms Donates to DuPage Board members, Wins Contract (January 30, 2011) Nine of the 15 DuPage County board members who approved a no-bid contract for an Itasca Law Firm to help redraw the county’s electoral map have accepted contributions from the group or its attorneys.

As stated earlier this week I will not accept the taxpayer funded pension or benefits and I will work to reduce the salary for this part time position.

As a DuPage County Board member I will work to eliminate single bid contracts to favored companies.

Being elected to office is a privilege.  When elected to office you are elected to represent the people and to serve them.  It seems that more often than not our elected officials are serving themselves and their friends.

DuPage Forest Preserve Executive Director Exits District with Golden Parachute

Very proud of my fellow Democratic candidates.  Through Freedom of Information Act requests made by Steve Leopoldo and Dennis Clark they uncovered a memo outlining a generous severance package for Executive Director Manning.   The information was not easily obtained. The Forest Preserve refused to abide by the Illinois Attorney General’s request to release the documents.  Once the documents were finally released if was just a matter of connecting the dots.  

DuPage Forest Preserve Executive Director Exits District with Golden Parachute

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 7:11 am
Wheaton, IL – June 25, 2012 – Executive Director Manning’s sudden retirement came as a shock to the DuPage Forest Preserve and its President, Dewey Pierotti, as indicated in statements released by the Forest Preserve shortly after Manning’s retirement was formally announced.
Manning’s abrupt retirement after renewing his contract in late 2011 sparked the interest of Commissioner Candidates Steven Leopoldo (District 3) and Dennis Clark (District 5).  Through Freedom of Information Act requests, they uncovered a memo of understanding between Manning and the District, outlining a generous severance package.
DuPage Forest Preserve President Pierotti signed the memo dated May 17 and it was approved as a non-public document by the Board of Commissioners on June 5. Manning is to receive a severance package of four months’ salary based on his annual salary of $165,000, all of his accrued vacation, sick and holiday benefits, and health and dental benefits through August. 
A request was made by both Clark and Leopoldo to view Manning’s letter of resignation. The official response from the District’s Freedom of Information officer, Linda Klett, was that, “The District has no such records. Mr. Manning did not submit an official letter of resignation.”   The Executive Director’s employment contract requires a 90 days’ written notice in order to be entitled to severance benefits. The May 17 memorandum of understanding terminated Manning’s contract on June 15. 
Reviewing the memorandum, Leopoldo stated, “It is unfair, unnecessary, and an unethical act to force taxpayers to foot the bill for Manning’s retirement package, in particular because it seems as if he was encouraged to resign.”
A curious provision in the memo of understanding also releases Manning and the District from legal repercussions from their actions.  
Manning’s early retirement announcement on May 18coincided with the District informing the public it would not abide by the Illinois Attorney General’s request to release records detailing payments made to Alamach Technologies, Inc. The payment records indicate how nearly a half of a million dollars were authorized by the District in the alleged scheme to defraud taxpayers.
On June 22 the District’s Freedom of Information Officer informed requestors that the Forest Preserve attorney moved to have the DuPage Circuit Court order signed to bar release of the documents. The motion making the request was sealed from public view, an extraordinary legal process to prevent the release of public information.
Speaking about the sealed documents, Clark said, “It is not hard to connect the dots. We won’t rest until the truth is out.” Clark further stated, “If Manning’s performance deserves a generous severance package, then why is a provision included in the memo of understanding that he can never again work for the District?”
Leopoldo and Clark stated that they are continuing to pressure the District to release information on how the Forest Preserve District is spending taxpayer dollars and are seeking further support of the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

Creation of Inspector General for DuPage County

 

DuPage County should consider the creation of an inspector general.  If elected to DuPage County Board I will make this a priority.

 

Study: Suburban corruption merits creation of inspector general

BY CASEY TONER ctoner@southtownstar.com June 25, 2012 1:58PM

 

Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman and head of UIC’s Political Science Deptartment, presented the results of a report detailing corruption that has afflicted more than 60 suburbs in Cook and surrounding counties and has ensnared more than 100 public officials and police officers, including 17 mayors and village presidents. He is calling for a suburban inspector general to rein it in.

 

Saying that suburban municipalities are copying the corruption playbook of Chicago, a former Chicago alderman on Monday proposed creating suburban inspector generals offices to police local officials.
“Many contracts and businesses in the suburbs have bribery and corruption as part of (their) business expenses,” said Dick Simpson, the head of the political science department at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
At a news conference at the Cook County Building in Chicago, Simpson unveiled a report — “Green Grass and Graft: Corruption in the Suburbs” — that he co-authored documenting corruption cases that have ensnared more than 100 suburban public officials and police officers dating to 1974.
“Somebody has to do something,” Simpson said. “This is not a minor problem. This is a major program.”
He suggested the state, the counties or the suburbs themselves could create the inspector generals offices. A local inspector general’s office could cost as much as $500,000 per year.
He said that would be a fraction of the cost of the problem, which he said was $500 million a year statewide and which he referred to as “the corruption tax.”
Simpson said that federal prosecutors are often tied up pursuing Chicago corruption cases and state’s attorneys are too politically compromised to fight crooked politicians.
“The truth is that most of the state’s attorneys have a political base and the political base doesn’t want to prosecute their own officials,” Simpson said.
He also said that office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan “should be doing much more,” to fight suburban political corruption instead of acting as a consumer advocate.
The idea does not lack local validation.
In October 1985, a federal jury convicted Du Page County School Supt. James Smith of obstruction of justice and lying to an FBI agent, after he took a $1,800 kickback from his predecessor, James Wright.
In Feb. 1994, Oakbrook Terrace Zoning Administrator Nicolae Ionescu pleaded guilty to extortion of $10,000 and tax fraud. The following autumn, Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Richard Sarallo admitted to tax evasion, related to bribery and kickbacks involving commercial developer Robert Krilich.
Lisle Park District Director Kim Paetschow resigned in June 2000, after a grand jury probe led to her being charged with theft of labor and services.
In May 2004, Naperville Park District Executive Director Ken Brissa resigned under board pressure after several months of a police probe into questionable spending and bid fixing.
Former Aurora Alderman Jim Meisch received a three year prison sentence after pleading guilty to several federal bribery charges in May 2005.
And just last month, former Warrenville Alderman Christopher Halley was sent to prison on a five-year sentence after he confessed that he took about $6,200 from two Naperville businessmen, promising to supply their new business with poker tables and chips that he never delivered. Halley already was on probation for past financial fraud offenses.
Simpson estimated the local inspector generals could be established within a year with the right support. He said a “champion in government,” needs to helm the cause, and he claimed that he spoke to a staff member of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office about the plan.
David Hoffman, Chicago’s Inspector General from 2005 to 2009, also endorsed the idea, calling the creation of inspector general’s offices a “very efficient tool to maximize integrity and protect public interests.”
At least one Chicago area town has already tried hiring an inspector general, but it did not end well. South suburban Country Club Hills tapped Ronald Evans, the husband of former police chief Regina Evans, to inspect any political wrongdoing in 2010. Ronald was laid off in August and Regina was fired in October.
Both were indicted this year after allegedly misappropriating more than $500,000 of a state grant to make mortgage payments on a theater they owned and give payments to their friends, family and associates between February 2009 and June 2010.
Sun reporter Susan Frick Carlman contributed to this report.



KICKOFF FUNDRAISER
Please join us for an evening of food & drinks to elect
Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin
DuPage County Board, District 2
July 19, 2012
4:30-8:00 p.m.
1461 Butterfield Rd
Downers Grove, Il 60515
Individual Ticket $35.00
Bronze: $50.00 Silver: $100.00 Gold: $200.00
Cash Bar
                                                                               RSVP appreciated
630-518-6740
Please feel free to stop by without an RSVP
CITIZENS TO ELECT ELIZABETH (LIZ) CHAPLIN

Chaplin Announces Candidacy for DuPage County Board District 2

Chaplin Announces Candidacy for DuPage County Board District 2
Former DuPage County Water Commission watch dog Liz Chaplin has kicked off her campaign for the District 2 seat on the DuPage County Board. 
“As your County Board member, I will cut salaries and end benefits for County Board members, eliminate single-bid contracts to political insiders, and continue my fight to reduce your taxes,” said Chaplin.
Chaplin, who served on the Water Commission board from 2002 to 2010, was instrumental in sounding the alarm on that agency’s financial mismanagement and is looking to bring the same scrutiny and accountability to the DuPage County Board.  
“We must eliminate from the county budget big-paying positions with big offices, big titles and very little work,” she said. “As your representative on the DuPage County Board every dollar will be spent to benefit the people of DuPage County.”


Chaplin will work to reduce County Board member salaries and benefits while improving services to taxpayers. “I will work to reduce the full-time salary of part-time board members to half the current amount of $50,079,” she said. 
“I will also work to eliminate members’ pension and benefits,” Chaplin said. “The annual savings from reducing salaries would be more than $450,000, plus many tens of thousands more would be saved by cutting the pension and benefits.”  Chaplin has pledged to refuse a County pension or benefits once elected to the board. 
Chaplin would like to see more businesses given the opportunity to benefit from the millions spent by DuPage County every year. “As a member of the DuPage County Board I will work to eliminate single-bid contracts going to favored companies and ensure that more companies in DuPage County are considered,” she said.
Chaplin has been involved in civic concerns for more than a decade. Following the 2001 discovery of contaminated well water in southwest Downers Grove, she spearheaded the effort to bring a safe water supply to over 800 homes.  
From 2001 to 2003, Chaplin served as the president of the Citizens Advisory Group, representing the residents in meetings with the Village of Downers Grove, DuPage County, DuPage Water Commission and the IEPA. More recently, she assisted citizens in successfully fighting a proposal to build a new Walgreens in a residential neighborhood at 63rd Street and Woodward Avenue Downers Grove.
Chaplin and her husband, Brian, a third-generation member of IBEW Local 701, have lived in Downers Grove for more than 20 years. They are the parents of Ellena 16, Grace, 14, and Adam, 12.
For the past 16 years Chaplin has been employed at Windy City Wire, where she currently works part-time in the accounts payable department. Liz is a past president of Midwest Ballet Theatre and, with her husband, is a long-time volunteer for the organization. Chaplin also has been a member of the Downers Grove Junior Women’s Club, second vice president of the Indian Trail PTA, and a religious education instructor at St. Joseph’s Church.
Chaplin intends to apply her experience as a mother, community activist and DuPage Water Commissioner to improve the operations of DuPage County.  “My interest in DuPage County government has evolved out of my concern for the apparent lack of fiscal responsibility by County Board members as reflected in their big salaries and pensions,” she said. 
“The board’s questionable bidding practices and apparent favoritism are unacceptable,” she said. “Rewarding the taxpayer with improved services should be the top priority.”
Chaplin welcomes the support of all District 2 residents and request their vote on November 6. Citizens are welcome to contact her and the campaign at CitizensForChaplin@gmail.com .

Tom Cullerton Fundraiser

Meet and Greet Tom Cullerton at a BBQ at the home of Carol B Davis, 601 S Summit, Villa Park, from 5:30 to 8:30 this Friday!

Find out why everyone should support Tom Cullerton, current Mayor of Villa Park, as the new Illinois State Senator in District 23 and enjoy a Midwest Mex BBQ with fellow Democrats!

All are welcome! BBQ will include carne asada, hamburgers, hot dogs and the delicacies friends and neighbors are bringing!

County Board Member District 1 Rita Gonzalez, and Candidate for County Board Member District 2 Liz Chaplin as well as other candidates will join us to meet our fellow Democrats!

Don’t forget! This Friday! 5:30 to 8:30 PM!

Villa Park Summer Fest

Adam Chaplin, Liz Chaplin, Gary Kleppe and Carol Davis

The Villa Park Summer Fest is a great community event.  I had a great time at the event talking with Democrats and Republicans.  The Chairman of the event Sam Greco stopped by the York Township Democratic booth.  We talked about the Fest, the volunteers and how much time and planning it takes to have such a successful event.  This is the first year they held the event on Friday and Saturday.  Friday night they had a huge turnout.  Congratulations to Villa Park on a great event!

Liz Chaplin and Sam Greco





Great event and opportunity.  An important issue that needs to be addressed is the protection of the individual that is requesting information.  I believe that there needs to be an amendment to the Act that addresses this issue.  When a person files a FOIA they should not be harassed or intimidated and for those that adhere to those practices there should be serious consequences. 







BGA to host citizen training session

T

Better Government Association officials want to empower suburban residents to keep an eye on local governments and hold them more accountable.

The nonprofit organization is hosting a citizen watchdog training event 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the National-Louis University Lisle campus, 850 Warrenville Road. The free session, taught by pro bono lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis LLP and a representative from the Illinois attorney general’s office, will educate attendees about the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act.

Barb Macholz, a civic engagement coordinator with the BGA, said the group has held a series of seminars for the past two years.
“The main idea is to give citizens the tools of transparency that they can use to get engaged in what’s going on with their local government,” Macholz said. “This is a really good introduction for people to start to understand how these boards work.”
While there have been training events throughout the state, Tuesday night’s will be the first held in DuPage County.
Macholz said the hope is to encourage more suburban residents to become citizen watchdogs.
“We’re finding that the suburban areas tend to be less looked at sometimes,” Macholz said. “There are some little fiefdoms.”
She added, “I feel it’s really important for citizens to get engaged instead of sitting at home and complaining or feeling like they can’t go out and have their voice heard.”
The session will be held in the Public Forum Room at National-Louis University. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at dupagecountywatchdog.eventbrite.com.
For more information, contact Macholz by calling (312) 821-9025 or emailing bmacholz@bettergov.org.

Elmhurst City Meeting






I have been posting about Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni and the issues surrounding serving as a Mayor and a County Board member at the same time.
Tonight I attended the City of Elmhurst Committee of the Whole meeting and Finance Committee meeting with Don Kirchenberg, Democratic Candidate for DuPage County Board District 2 and my daughter Ellie. 
The Finance Committee has been discussing whether to restrict City Council members to one elected position.  The next meeting on this will be on June 25th.
I have also been following the issue closely on the Elmhurst Patch where they have a very well informed group of citizens who have done an excellent job at educating the rest of us on the issue.  
Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting and thanking these folks for all their hard work and efforts in bringing this important issue to the forefront!

Trust





In any relationship whether it is a marriage, a soccer team, dancers and our government there must be trust, for trust is a fundamental element of a successful relationship.
If a marriage lacks trust the marriage will fail.  If a soccer player does not trust his team mates the team will lose, if a dancer does not trust her partner the dancer will fall.  Fail, lose and fall this is what will happen to our government if there is a lack of trust between the citizens and its government.
Nothing is perfect.  Being transparent and free with information is a good start to improving the system.  When our government distributes our tax dollars to other entities I believe that those entities have a duty to disclose how those funds are being used.
  
Serving on a board of a non profit organization the non profit has been the recipient of grants.  When applying for these grants the grantor wants a detailed explanation of how the funds will be used. Some of the grants received have stipulations.  Some of the grants require that we distribute a certain amount of tickets to low income families, some of the grants require that the funds are used for education of the students, some of the funds are to go back to investment in the organization.  
In times when every tax need tax dollar is drawn out of the hard working tax payer it is imperative that we know where are tax dollars are going.  Any recipient of tax dollars should have to disclose how they are using these funds.
DuPage County Board should insist that any entity that receives tax dollars post their budgets on line and that these entities also abide by the Freedom of Information Act.
By DuPage County implementing these simple ideas, it would be a giant step in gaining the publics trust.