STERIGENICS SAVE THE DATE: USEPA November 29th Town Hall Forum

SAVE THE DATE:  The USEPA is planning a Community Meeting to share current information and answer questions pertaining to the Sterigenics environmental issue.  A number of federal, state, and local agencies will be represented at the meeting.  The meeting will occur on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 7:00 PM at Ashton Place Banquets, 341 75th Street, Willowbrook, IL 60527.  If anyone would like to submit questions in advance of this meeting, the USEPA has established the following e-mail address to do so: EtO@epa.gov

You can find more information here.

Our Friends and Neighbors Need Your Help-Stop Sterigeincs

Sadly, I’m familiar with dangerous pollution in this county. I spearheaded the effort to bring safe water to a little over 800 families in the early 2000’s. While on the DuPage County Board I’ve been fighting to protect our citizens from health threats. 

Our county is yet again in the middle of another public health crisis, a local business, Steriginics has been emitting dangerous levels of ethylene oxide into the air our friends and neighbors breathe. To make matters worse there is at least one known spill at the site that could pose a threat to people on private wells in the area surrounding Sterigenics.

The moment I heard that the Illinois EPA decided that there “isn’t an immediate health crisis,” something Republicans, including Governor Rauner have repeated… I was reminded of the ordeal my family went through when we learned our water had been poisoned. They were wrong. And people got sick.  That is why I have been calling for DuPage County to reinstate the private well testing program DuPage County Board Chairman Schillerstrom piloted in 2005.  Schillerstrom wanted to make sure the people on private wells were drinking good, clean water.  I am baffled as to why the county is reluctant to test the wells surrounding Sterigenics and waiting for word from the EPA before taking such action.

I also don’t understand why there has been no direct call from the DuPage County Board Chairman to Governor Rauner to declare the site a public health crisis and immediately shut down Sterigenics.

Our friends and neighbors need our help. Please call Governor Rauner and demand that he use his authority and immediately shut down Sterigenics.

Rauner Has The Power To Shut Down Sterigenics – DuPage County Needs To Call On The Governor To Do His Job

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPLIN CALLS FOR THE TESTING OF PRIVATE WELLS SURROUNDING STERIGENICS

This past weekend I learned that in 2013 Sterigenics had a spill of ethylene glycol. I believe that DuPage County must be proactive in protecting the health of our citizens.

In 2005 after learning of the water contamination in Downers Grove Gardens the county paid for the testing of private wells throughout DuPage.

During this Tuesday’s Health and Human Service Committee I asked that the county, in conjunction with the health department, provide private well testing for the homes in the unincorporated area surrounding Sterigenics. I followed up my request with an email to Karen Ayala, Executive Director of the DuPage County Health Department, who responded immediately that her staff has begun to research the process. 

Because I have the knowledge and understanding of the amount of damage carcinogens such as ethylene oxide can cause to humans and the environment I have called for a ban of the use of ethylene oxide.

You can read more here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DUPAGE COUNTY ELECTION WATCHDOG JEAN KACZMAREK GIVES NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE ELECTION COMMISSION FOR ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDING SERIAL NUMBERS OF DATED VOTING MACHINES CAST OFF BY OTHER COUNTIES NOW IN DUPAGE

 

I share Jean Kaczmarek‘s concerns with the lack of transparency and the circumstances surrounding the settlement between the DuPage County Election Commission and Liberty Systems. What was the rush to settle with Liberty Systems? Why would the Election Commission accept used machines as part of the settlement? How can the people of DuPage County have confidence on election day with old equipment that other counties tossed away?

ACTION ALERT! Today I filed notice of intent to sue the DuPage County Election Commission for illegally withholding serial numbers of dated voting machines now in their possession which were cast off by other counties. Please read the news release which follows below. Please contact the Election Commissioners TODAY to request them to RELEASE THE SERIAL NUMBERS. Here is the contact information:

Cathy Ficker Terrill, Chairperson cterrill@dupageco.org
James Lowe jlowe@dupageco.org
John Boske john.boske@dupageco.org

Leave phone messages at: (630) 407-5600

Date: Sept. 4, 2018

DUPAGE COUNTY ELECTION WATCHDOG JEAN KACZMAREK GIVES NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE ELECTION COMMISSION FOR ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDING SERIAL NUMBERS OF DATED VOTING MACHINES CAST OFF BY OTHER COUNTIES NOW IN DUPAGE

GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn resident and 13-year election watchdog Jean Kaczmarek gave notice to the DuPage County Board of Election Commissioners today of her intent to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Commission for illegally withholding records about the 118 dated, cast-off voting machines acquired from the vendor they have “a lack of confidence” in – namely, Liberty Systems.

Kaczmarek’s June 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, denied by the County and currently on appeal to the Illinois Attorney General Office’s Public Access Counselor, seeks bulk serial numbers found on the outside of vintage, out-of-warranty Diebold optical scan machines.

Kaczmarek plans to use these serial numbers to track the origin of the antiquated, cast-off machines. These 15-year-old machines were provided to DuPage County under a settlement agreement among the Election Commission, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Liberty Systems, LLC, following DuPage’s nationally-publicized 2018 Primary Election snafu due to faulty ender cards provided by the vendor. A reported 167 machines were damaged when the ender cards printed on too-thick paper stock were fed into the machines during the closing out the polling places. Confusion and miscommunication followed. Consequently, election results in DuPage were delayed for hours.

The terms of the dubious settlement were not publicly discussed or voted on prior to the May 9th Election Commission Board meeting, yet the agreement had already been fully prepared. The agreement was omitted in the agenda packet. Contracted attorney, Pat Bond of Bond, Dickson & Assoc., who oversaw the settlement, said the Commission had a “lack of confidence” in Liberty Systems. In addition to all contracts with Liberty Systems ending, the vendor was to repair or replace the broken machines with “like kind” models. The Board also agreed to pay Liberty Systems $187,469.86 for supplying the Commission with ballots and paper poll books in the Primary.

“My radar signals whenever a government body handles a delicate situation too quickly and too quietly. This was no exception,” Kaczmarek explains. “What were they thinking accepting old equipment cast-off from other counties? Unacceptable. Surely, DuPage can do better.”

Some 57 machines were repaired by Liberty Systems, leaving roughly 110 machines purchased in 2001 broken beyond repair. In June, the vendor delivered 118 “like kind” machines to the Commission. Kaczmarek is seeking the serial numbers found on the outside of these 118 voting machines. It is unknown if the Commission plans to use the machines or any of their components in future elections.

“Where did these used voting machines come from?” asks Kaczmarek. “Were they purchased on eBay? From an e-cycling firm? Or were they cast off by other counties and traded in for new machines at Liberty Systems? Citizens deserve to know. It is clearly a matter of accountability.”

The Commission has denied Kaczmarek’s FOIA request, calling it a threat to election security and an impermissible disclosure of private information, but Kaczmarek’s lawyer, Daniel Massoglia, said that under the law, Kaczmarek — and ultimately the public — is entitled to the withheld records.

“FOIA stands for the principle that the people have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. There is no security threat in this information. If the Commission doesn’t reconsider its illegal denials, we will enforce the public’s right to know in court,” Massoglia stated.

“A lawsuit is a time-consuming and expensive exercise,” Massoglia adds. “Failing to honor the law now will leave DuPage County taxpayers on the hook.”

Kaczmarek, who has been scrutinizing the DuPage County Election Commission since 2005 and is the Democratic candidate for DuPage County Clerk, is taking action now because she sees it as her responsibility as a member of the public to shine light on whether the County plans to use dated, out-of-warranty machines in future elections.

“Why should citizens be expected to have confidence in old, used voting machines from a company the Commission says it has a lack of confidence in?” Kaczmarek questions.

 

DuPage County: More Misused Funds

In May, I wrote about DuPage County using the RTA sales tax to balance the General Fund rather than being used for our roads and public transit.  In July it was brought to the attention of the Finance Committee members that the Coroner Fee Fund has been providing relief to the General Fund.  The law states that the General Fund is responsible for paying the fees associated with autopsies. Since 2007, the fees associated with autopsies have been paid from the Coroner Fee Fund. Richard Jorgensen, the DuPage County Coroner, has requested that the fees associated with autopsies be paid from the General Fund as stated in the Illinois Statute, and use the Coroner Fee Fund funds for the purpose that was initially passed.

It appears the Coroner Fee Fund can no longer bare the burden of providing relief to the General Fund. This is not sound budgeting. This is simply a diversion of funds, kicking the can down the road. Below are questions that I have asked. These are important questions that need to be answered:

Besides the RTA Tax and the Coroner Fee Fund how many other funds are being used in the General Fund that were appropriated for specific purpose other than the General Fund?
If we were to allocate the RTA funds to transportation what impact would that have on the General Fund?
If the General Fund were to pay for the fees associated with autopsies as required by Illinois State Statute what impact would that have on the General Fund? 

You can read more about the misused funds here.

 

Shell Game

How much longer will the county be relying on the misguided use of the RTA Tax to balance the budget? This is the question I asked on October 19, 2014. In a letter sent to DuPage County Chairman on September 29, 2015 I asked a rhetorical question, what percent of the RTA sales tax is going to the transportation budget?

 

Time and time again we hear how DuPage County has held the line on property taxes. How has DuPage been the only county to figure out how to keep the property tax levy flat for the past 6 years and keep the county in the black? It’s a shell game.  In January of 2008 the RTA sales tax rate was increased by 0.25% in Cook County and by 0.50% in the Collar Counties. Proceeds of the sales tax increase in the Collar Counties are divided evenly between the RTA and the county where the tax is collected. The proceeds awarded to the Collard Counties can be only utilized for transportation and/or public safety.

 

While the other Collar Counties which include Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will, rely on property tax as their major source of revenue, DuPage County’s largest source of revenue is sales tax. Currently 56.8 percent of the DuPage County’s revenue source is sales tax, which includes the RTA sales tax that can only be utilized for transportation and/or public safety.  It might sound like a good idea to use sales tax as the largest portion of revenues but it is also very dangerous. In September of 2016 Moody’s downgraded DuPage County’s AAA rating. Crain’s  Chicago Business reporter Greg Hinz reported the following “The downgrade reflects Fitch’s concern (about) the county’s limited revenue flexibility and slow revenue growth prospects,” the New York firm wrote. “(Fitch’s) revised criteria placed increased focus on Fitch’s expectations for the natural pace of revenue growth without revenue-raising measures and the ability of an entity to independently increase revenue.” In general, Fitch said it expects revenue from existing taxes to grow “slightly below historical trends” and generally only in line with national inflation. “While sales tax revenue has growth between 4 percent and 5 percent annually over the past several years, it has slowed to only 1 percent growth in fiscal 2016, leading the county to change its growth assumptions going forward to only 2 percent growth.”

 

During the January 9, 2018 meeting of the DuPage  Finance Committee, I requested a time frame for a discussion to take place regarding revenues. We finally started the discussion during the May 22, 2018 DuPage County Finance Committee meeting. There was a lot of discussion; Member Don Puchalski commented that all of the collar counties Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will use the RTA for transportation, which according to the legislation is an appropriate use of the funds. None of the RTA sales tax is used for transportation in DuPage County. Member Puchalski is the Chairman of the Transportation Committee, you could hear the frustration in his voice. The RTA tax is  integral to the funding of our roads and public transit. Member Puchalski asked for further discussion on the use of the RTA sales tax and I agreed. I asked if the reason the county was able to keep the property tax levy flat was due to our reliance of the RTA sales tax to balance the budget? 

 

We’ve seen this movie before in DuPage County. It happened at the DuPage Water Commission. The quarter percent sales tax was to be used to pay off the 150 million dollars in General Obligation Bonds.  That is how the referendum was presented to the citizens of DuPage County. Rather than use the sales tax to pay down the debt the DuPage Water Commission used the sales tax to stabilize water rates to the Commission Charter customers.  The rate that the Charter Customers (municipalities) paid for water during the inception was 1.95 per thousand gallons.  The rate the  Commission customers were paying was dropped to 1.45 per thousand gallons of water and eventually lowered more. Besides lowering the water rate the sales tax was used to dish out rebates to the Charter Customers (municipalities) in the amount of 66.3 million dollars. I had serious concerns, whether the savings from the rebates or rate reductions were passed on to the citizens. I also had serious concerns that the loss from regular operations had been steadily climbing and at some point would overwhelm the sales tax and income investment income. That’s exactly what happened.

 

Some good news came out of the May 22nd Finance Committee Meeting when the majority of the board agreed that we need to hold a special call meeting to continue the revenue discussion.

 

Shell Game Information here. 

More information on Don Puchalski here.

RTA Sales Tax  Legislation Information here.

Crain’s Chicago Business – Moody’s Information here. 

January 9, 2018 Finance Meeting Minutes here.

DuPage Water Commission Information Below

DuPage Water Commission Faces Dissolution By State

Daily Herald Candidate Profile

As a public service, The Daily Herald newspaper provides candidate profiles. The candidate profile includes the following information a short bio, civic involvement, why the candidate is running for office and a question and answer section. You can find my candidate profile below:

Bio

City: Downers Grove

Website: www.lizchaplin.com

Twitter: @LizChaplin1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizchaplinforillinois/

Office sought:

DuPage County board District 2

Age: 53

Family: Married 28 years to Brian. Three Children, Ellena 22, Grace 20 and Adam 18. Two Dogs, Nova and Orbit.

Occupation: Accounts Payable Windy City Wire 1995-current

Civic involvement: Board Member DuPage Railroad Safety Council, Recipient of the 2014 prestigious “Lauren Elizabeth Wilson Champion Award” for commitment to the issue of railway safety.

Appointed to the DuPage Water Commission in 2002, reappointed in 2004, served until 2010.

Member of Downers Grove 100 Women Who Care, Served as President of Midwest Ballet Theatre, Served as Second VP of the Indian Trail PTA, Past member of the Downers Grove Junior Women’s Club, Past Religious Education Teacher, St. Joseph’s Church

Elected offices held: DuPage County Board member 2012 – Current

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?

Since 2001 I have been advocating on behalf of the citizens of DuPage County and I would love to continue doing so.

I have relentlessly challenged back room deal making, excessive salaries and benefits for elected officials, lucrative contracts for the associates of connected insiders, and the practice of allowing campaign contributions from vendors doing business with the County.

My philosophy is that government needs to be frugal and fiscally responsible while providing needed services which include public safety, quality infrastructure and human services. When tax dollars are spent lining the pockets of those connected with the insider elite, government cannot afford to do what needs to be done.

This is what motivates me to continue my efforts on the DuPage County Board

You can read my complete profile here.

Daily Herald Endorses Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin

I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Daily Herald. I am pleased the Daily Herald understands the importance of asking tough questions, engaging in honest debate and the willingness to challenge the board’s status quo.

 

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Endorsements: Chaplin in DuPage County Board Dist. 2

Chaplin, who works part-time, faces an uphill battle on a GOP-dominated board, but we like her willingness to ask tough questions and stand up for her beliefs. She says the county may have made all the budget cuts it can and eventually may need to consider other revenue sources. Much of her focus is on social issues, including the county’s battle against heroin and the need for senior services.

Chaplin has demonstrated a willingness to engage in honest debate and to challenge the board’s status quo. In a close call, Chaplin is endorsed.

You can read the full endorsement here.