It’s Time to End Pensions for Part-Time Elected County Board Members

On Friday, July 22nd, I read the following statement before the board members of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund;
During the May 10, 2016 Finance Committee meeting, I expressed my surprise to learn that in August of 2015 the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund conducted an audit of the DuPage County Board. Only board members who participate in the IMRF were notified. All board members, including myself, should have been included. By not informing all of us, we lost an opportunity to at least discuss the matter of whether or not DuPage County should continue in the program.

In conversations I have had with Louis Kosiba, Executive Director of the IMRF, the only requirement for county board members to qualify for the IMRF is that a majority of the board members must sign IMRF form 6.93 certifying that they work 1,000 hours per year.

Currently only 8 out of the 18 board members participate in the IMRF. The participating board members signing the forms alone would not be sufficient to allow them to continue participation in the IMRF. Wanting to keep their pensions, the participating board members selectively sought out 2 non participating board members that would sign the form and allow the 8 board members to continue in the IMRF. I question the ethics and legality of such an audit.

The DuPage County Board does not meet the last two weeks in July and December. The DuPage County Board does not meet on the 5th Tuesday of any given month. This year there are 4, 5th Tuesday’s, March, May, August and November. That is 8 weeks of no meetings this year. The general amount of weeks worked during a one year period is 50. One would need to work 20 hours each of those 50 weeks in order to meet the minimum amount of 1000 hours per year. DuPage County Board members will only work 44 weeks this year making the minimum amount of time spent on DuPage County business 23 hours a week. What counts for time spent on the job is very specific and limited according to IMRF form 6.93.

Form 6.93 clearly states: Hours spent at meetings, in the office and hours spent actually conferring with constituents are to be count as performance duty. Hours spent on-call or otherwise available to constituents do not county toward the IMRF hourly standard, nor does time spent traveling to meetings.

Even the IMRF acknowledges that barring highly unusual circumstances the 1000 hour threshold will not be met.

Currently, our members receive $50,079 annually, which is about to increase to $51,081. A vested pension would one day give participants over $40,000 per year for life. Because the pension burden for part-time elected officials is much greater for the DuPage County taxpayer than surrounding counties I would call for a new audit to be do as soon as possible. The audit should be done in an open and transparent manner and similar to the McHenry audit I would encourage the IMRF to review meeting minutes which provides the attendance record of county board members as well as the amount of time spent in each meratings.

DuPage Railroad Safety 2016 Conference A Call to Action-Eliminate Trespasser Deaths and Injuries

 

The Mission of the DuPage Railroad Safety Council is to prevent deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railways.  Please join the DuPage Railroad Safety Council  for their 2016 Conference.

You can register on line here .

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#5 – Conflict of Interest

This is the 5th in a series of posts about my accomplishments on the DuPage County Board.

Ten months after I questioned a conflict of interest, on May 24, 2016 the DuPage County Board voted to replace Tom Altoff as a Lisle Woodridge Fire District Trustee. The county appointed Tom Althoff as a LWFD Trustee. He was also appointed by the Village of Lisle Board to the VOL Economic Development Commission. This commission makes recommendations to the Village Board regarding things like business incentives, TIF districts, grants, etc.

For sometime I have been keeping tabs on what has transpired at the Lisle Woodridge Fire District. Many people in County Board District 2 are served by the Lisle Woodridge Fire District. It is the largest fire district in DuPage County. The majority of fire districts in Dupage County have elected trustees, the LWFD board members are appointed.

My concern was for the residents served by Fire Station 1 in downtown Lisle. Tom Althoff, who was appointed to the LWFD by the DuPage County Board in July of 2013, was then appointed to the Village of Lisle Economic Development Committee in early 2015. Clearly there was a conflict. There is no way Mr. Altoff or anyone could serve in both positions and not be conflicted.

On July 7, 2015 I sent the an email to Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board Chairman and the Mayor of Lisle, Joseph Broda, expressing my concerns regarding the conflict.

Below is a copy of the email sent Cronin and Broda.
The county appointed Tom Althoff as a LWFD Trustee. I recently learned that he was also appointed by the Village of Lisle Board to the VOL Economic Development Commission. This commission makes recommendations to the Village Board regarding things like business incentives, TIF districts, grants, etc.

I believe there is a conflict of interest issue here.

From the Handbook for Trustees of Illinois Fire Protection Districts by James Sinclair. This is Chapter 3, The Board of Trustees, Section B, “Holding Multiple Offices/Conflicts:”

The Illinois Fire Protection District Act bars a township official who is eligible to vote on the appointment of a protection district trustee from being appointed to that position. Additionally, care should be exercised whenever a person proposed for appointment as a fire protection district trustee holds another elective or appointive public office, since this may disqualify the individual from appointment as a fire protection district trustee if the offices are incompatible. The office of the Illinois Attorney General maintains a listing of public offices which have been determined to be incompatible. Incompatibility occurs where there is a statutory or constitutional prohibition or where the duties of either office are such that the holder of one office cannot fully and faithfully perform the duties of the other office…. (50 ILCS 105/1, 2, 2a)

The Village of Lisle recently approved a new TIF District in downtown Lisle. The redevelopment area includes LWFD Station #1. The VOL wants the station out of downtown. LWFD has, as you know, has no money to build a new fire station. I realize the EDC is only a recommending body, however, the VOL Board of Trustees has repeatedly said they establish recommending bodies to spend more time on certain issues and without a completing reason, they follow the recommendations of the commission. Althoff was on the TIF Joint Review Board representing the LWFD and voted in favor the new TIF District.

What are we going to do about this?

Liz Chaplin

You can read 1 – 4 here , here , here  and here

Event to Assist Veterans

The Daily Herald reports the following:

Jessica Cilella

Veterans in need are being urged to attend an event next week at the DuPage County Fairgrounds where they can get job and legal assistance and receive free food, clothing, haircuts and medical exams.

The event, Homeless Veterans Stand Down, is intended to serve veterans from DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties. It will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at 2015 Manchester Road in Wheaton.
Mike Barbour, a veterans advocate for Naperville Township who helped organize this year’s event, said it’s geared toward homeless veterans and veterans at risk of becoming homeless.

You can learn more about the event here.

DuPage County Budget Survey

DuPage County wants to know what you think. Please take the budget survey and let us know what is important to you.

You can take the survey using the following link provided here.

 

#4 – DRSC Rail Safety and Education Award Winners

DRSC Rail Safety and Education Award Winners
August 7, 2014 · · Taken at August 7, 2014 – The DuPage Railroad Council Announce DRSC Rail Safety and Education Award Winners
The DuPage Railroad Safety Council announced its award winners last Thursday, Aug. 7, at its 20th anniversary celebration held at the Chicago History Museum. There are many champions of rail safety and education, but we narrowed the field to the following recipients. Joyce Rose – “Victor Olivera Educator Award,” Carole Messana – “Michael S. DeLarco Success Award,” Hilary Konczal and Liz Chaplin – “Lauren Elizabeth Wilson Champions Award,” Kurt and Laura Topel – “Jonathan Goers Champions Award,” and Marni Pyke – “DRSC Public Awareness Award.” Their partnership is invaluable to us.

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Award

 

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Liz Chaplin with Dr. Lanny Wilson

#3 – Public Safety

CHICAGO, SUBURBS TELL U.S. TO TIGHTEN CRUDE – OIL TRAIN RULES
OCTOBER 2, 2014
With the help of DuPage County Board member Jim Healy, Jim and I were able to bring a resolution to the board regarding tank car standards. The resolution was passed unanimously. The resolution was submitted by the county to the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration last week.

The Chicago Tribune reports
Warning that a crude-oil train derailment in the densely populated Chicago area could result in “unthinkable” devastation, city and suburban officials are calling for stricter rules on hazardous material shipments than the federal government has proposed.
“An incident in a heavily populated area of the city could potentially impact thousands of people in the immediate vicinity of a hazardous materials release or explosion,” the city said in documents filed with federal regulators.

You can read more on the crude oil story here.

You can read #1 here  and #2 here .

#2 – Questionable Practices

 

In February of 2013 it was brought to my attention that a DuPage County employee was spending approximately 12 hours a month working on DuPage Forest Preserve matters and using DuPage County resources to do this work. Keep in mind the DuPage Forest Preserve is its own taxing body.

The DuPage County Clerk moonlighted as the secretary for the forest preserve for many years and collected a salary that was pension eligible for those duties. The DuPage County Clerk had an employee in the clerks office prepare the minutes for him rather than doing this himself or having a forest preserve employee prepare the minutes. The DuPage County employee was not receiving any compensation from the forest preserve for these duties. There was no intergovernmental agreement.
Although this may seem minor 12 hours per month equals 144 hours per year. That is almost one month of county employee time and resources spent on matters not related to the county.

DuPage County was storing DuPage Forest Preserve documents. Again, no intergovernmental agreement and no rent for storage of these documents.

Some board members and the chairman tried to make light of the situation and claimed this was “shared services” and nothing more.

To claim that the situation between the DuPage Forest Preserve and DuPage County is a “shared service” is a stretch. What is a shared service? A shared service should be a win/win situation. It should be equitable for all rather than one entity gaining at the expense of others. When a shared service is established it is important to distinguish responsibilities and share all associated costs. Shared services should be an agreement and as such requires an intergovernmental agreement. Examples of shared services would be purchasing in bulk and combined fuel purchases.
The fact that there were no intergovernmental agreements and no sharing of costs the situation was clearly not shared.
I asked for the duties and documents to be returned to the DuPage Forest Preserve where they belong by April of 2013.

After making comment at the board meeting I continued to press the matter with the States Attorney’s Office asked for an intergovernmental agreement or to return the documents and duties to the forest preserve.

Although it took longer than I would have liked I am happy to report the Forest Preserve District is in possession of the Minutes and Agendas from December 2002 until 2013. They will receive the 2014 files once they are completed.
A new secretary has been appointed to the DuPage County Forest preserve. An administrative assistant that is employed by the forest preserve will be taking over the duties of the secretary. No longer is the DuPage County Clerk or any employee from DuPage performing these duties, ending years of questionable practices.

It took many emails, phone calls and gentle reminders to get this mission accomplished.

#1

I am going to we writing a series of posts about my accomplishments on the DuPage County Board. This is the first in the series.

Before March of 2013 DuPage County did not post Agendas or Minutes of the Liquor Commission meetings.

In March of 2013 I had raised concerns that an Agenda was not posted for the March meeting of the Liquor Commission. I was told by Assistant States Attorney, Nancy Wolfe, that because there was only one commissioner and they were only discussing liquor licenses, they did not need to post an agenda.

I explained that I had attended the Liquor Commission meeting and many topics were discussed and that we should post all Agendas and Meeting Minutes. It does not matter how many commissioners serve on a committee, it is a public meeting and an Agenda needs to be posted.

After several email exchanges, I finally received the response I had been waiting for.  In the spirit of the Open Meetings Act the county will post Agendas and Minutes of the Liquor Commission meetings.

You can read the March 2013 Meeting Minutes here .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaplin Fundraiser Hosted by The DuPage Building Trades with Special Guest Speaker Susana Mendoza

 

I am pleased to announce that The Building Trades of DuPage County will be hosting my next fundraiser on July 14th. Susana Mendoza will be the Special Guest Speaker.
FUNDRAISER TO RE-ELECT
LIZ CHAPLIN
DuPAGE COUNTY BOARD
HOSTED BY THE DuPAGE COUNTY BUILDING TRADES

SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER
SUSANA MENDOZA
Democratic Candidate for Illinois Comptroller

Also speaking at the event,  JEAN KACZMAREK and AZAM NIZAMUDDIN

Thursday, July 14, 2016

5:00PM – 7:30PM

IBEW Local 701 Hall
28600 Bella Vista Parkway
Warrenville, Il

Checks payable to: Citizens for Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin
5623 Pershing Ave, Downers Grove, Il 60516

Platinum Sponsor $1000
Gold Sponsor $500
Silver Sponsor $250
Bronze Sponsor $100

Suggested Donation: $75