PUSH TO RAISE THE AGE

Research suggests that kids who drink alcohol and use tobacco products are more likely to become addicted to these substances as adults.  These addictions can lead to health complications later in life. The drinking age in Illinois was increased to 21 from 18 in 1980.  Local leaders are now taking similar actions with tobacco products .  Late last year the City of Naperville raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 from 18, following the leads of Chicago, Oak Park and Evanston. Lake County became the first county in Illinois to raise the age to 21 years old to purchase tobacco and Kane County is considering raising the age to purchase tobacco products as well.

During the September 19, 2017 DuPage County Health and Human Service Committee meeting I suggested that DuPage County consider raising the age to purchase cigarettes to 21 from 18. Although there did not seem to be much interest from the committee, I plan to pursue this matter because this is the exact type of conversation the Health and Human Service Committee should be having.

 

 

You can learn more about this topic using the following links:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/illinois/articles/2017-09-13/northern-illinois-county-raising-minimum-tobacco-age-to-21

http://kanehealth.com/tobacco21.htm

https://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/nicotine-health/index.html

http://www.dailyherald.com/news/20170517/kane-county-considering-change-in-age-to-buy-tobacco

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20161206/news/161209339/

HOOP-LA

Last week I wrote about Nicole Virgil and her family.  The Virgil family lives in Elmhurst and are avid gardeners. Nicole Virgil’s desire to provide clean, fresh, real food to her family has transformed into something very special.  What went from wanting to provide healthy food for her children has know become a small business that provides a healthy alternative for her neighbors as well. You can read more here.

In  2015 Nicole and her husband, Dan, decided to put up a hoop house. The hoop house is built of plastic pipe, reinforcing steel bars sticking up from the ground and translucent plastic sheeting. This makes a temporary greenhouse over raised beds in the family’s backyard.  The hoop house allows the family to garden all year.
After a neighbor complained the Virgil’s had to take the hoop house down. After much back and forth with the City of Elmhurst it was decided that the city should discuss hoop houses. On March 13, 2017 the Virgil family with their supporters attended the Development, Planning and Zoning meeting. Many spoke in support of the hoop house during the public comment. They provided the committee members with research on 18 different municipalities that allow hoop houses. It was stated that the discussion of the hoop house would be continued and placed on the agenda in late April or early May.

July was here and the Virgil family had heard nothing.  Dan Virgil went to a DP&Z meeting to inquire. It was discovered that a decision had been made to  “expire” the topic without notification or explanation.

So here we are.  The latest on the plight of the Virgil family and the hoop house.

My Suburban Life reports the following:
Mary Stroka – mstroka@shawmedia.com

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst Development, Planning and Zoning Committee announced its decision Aug. 28 to delay discussing hoop houses until after the lawsuit surrounding a local family’s hoop house concludes.

Nicole and Dan Virgil and other hoop house supporters had spoken during public comment at the committee meeting about their desire to see the committee discuss the issue and come to a resolution.

Mark Daniel, Virgil’s attorney, said the Virgils were charged with violating city code for having a hoop house in their backyard in the 500 block of Fairview Avenue. A hoop house is a temporary gardening structure used to extend the growing season into winter.

After much public comment, council discussion and controversy, it was taken down Feb. 24 to eliminate the threat of city-imposed fines.

The Virgils have filed a lawsuit against the city. The next hearing date for the case in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court of DuPage County is scheduled for Oct. 31.

Daniel said the transcript from the January administrative hearing at Elmhurst City Hall was impacted by a “horrific” setup for the audio recording.

“Lots of discussion was not captured by the audio recording. There’s a lot of paper ruffling and talking over that made it very difficult for the court reporter to transcribe [what was said],” Daniel said.

This delayed the date for the court hearing, Daniel said. Judge Paul Fullerton may make a decision Oct. 31 or later, depending on the judge’s schedule, he said.

“Oct. 31 is well after we would have started constructing the hoop house for this season,” Nicole Virgil said. “That’s part of why this is so discouraging. The process is going so slowly that it seems hard to achieve a resolution.”

You can read the full story here.

You can read more herehere, and here.

 

People Making A Difference

I have had the opportunity to meet many outstanding people who are making a difference in our community, Nicole Virgil is one of them.

Nicole Virgil’s desire to provide clean, fresh, real food to her family has transformed into something very special.  What went from wanting to provide healthy food for her children has know become a small business that provides a healthy alternative for her neighbors as well.

I spent sometime with Nicole and her daughter Sarah to learn a little more about what they do.

As I was driving to the Virgil’s home I  knew I was getting close as the neighborhood yards were adorned with brightly colored Fairview Produce signs.

I was greeting with a warm smiles from Nicole and her daughter Sarah. Sarah was excited to tell me all about the produce they had for sale.  Sarah pointed out each item that was for sale as she talked about them. There was flashy butter oak lettuce , oregano, mint, three different kinds of kale, garlic, onions and chives, to name a few. There was hand made soap and honey from a local harvester.

Sarah then took me on a tour of the garden in the back yard. It was beautiful, almost magical. The raised beds with their bright, vibrant colors, the beautiful foliage and the fragrant smell, I wanted to soak it all in.

Many neighbors stopped by to purchase their fresh items for the week.  One of the neighbors even mentioned the “weight loss” since eating a little more healthy and thanked Nicole.

Besides healthy eating Nicole’s children Sarah and TJ are learning to run a business.  They help with the garden, they developed a website, learn to make change and the importance of a good work ethic.

If you have a chance you should stop by Fairview Produce located at 598 S. Fairview, Elmhurst, Il.

You can learn more about Fairview Produce here.

 

 

 

Chip, Chip, Chip Away

DuPage County contracts with four separate lobbying firms costing tax payers $282,000 per year.  The DuPage Election Commission has spent $36,000 per year for lobbyists and the States Attorney lobbyists costs to the taxpayer is $48,000 per year. Taxpayers also contribute tax dollars to the following lobbying entities: The National Association of Counties, Illinois Association of Counties, Illinois Association of Auditors, Illinois Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, Illinois Association of Clerks and Recorders, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Treasurer and the list goes on. Lots of tax dollars going to lobbyists.

I have been questioning the need for lobbyists since I was first elected. In 2015 I started questioning the need for the DuPage Election Commission and the States Attorney to have separate lobbyists. “Why not use the county’s lobbyists?” I asked.

During Tuesdays meeting of the DuPage County Board it was announced that the DuPage Election Commission will no longer be using its own lobbyists and will use DuPage County’s lobbyists saving the taxpayer $36,000 per year. I was pleased that DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin acknowledge my efforts.

 

 

For the past few years I have been using the Kane County Board as an example of how a government can succeed without using lobbyists.  The Kane County Legislative Committee has been acting as their own lobbyists.  I reached out to Susan Starrett, Chairman of the Kane County Legislative Committee, to ask how the arrangement has been working out.

“The partnerships with the legislators have been positive. We have direct access to all legislators, state and federal, and it has made it easier for us to convey our concerns (throughout the year) and give our opinions to the source. The last two years we have been able to save taxpayers between (conservative estimate) $3-5 million/year. We hold one event a year with great attendance. The response to return during the year and provide information has been excellent,” Starrett said.

DuPage County and Kane County share many of the same State and Federal legislators.  If this arrangement works well for Kane County I see no reason for why it would not work for DuPage County.

I believe the elimination of the DuPage Election Commission lobbyists is only the beginning. I am hopeful that we will continue to see a reduction of lobbyists contract over the next few years with all lobbying contract being fazed out.

I have learned that things don’t change overnight, you have to be persistent and keep chip, chip, chipping away.

You can read past posts about DuPage County Lobbyists herehere, and here.

You can find DuPage County Lobbying Contracts here .

You can learn more about the Kane County Legislative Committee here .

 

 

TAKING A SIDE WITH MY ELMHURST FRIENDS

Thank you to my Elmhurst friends who invited me to “take a side.” – Elie Wiesel once said “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” .

 

MY LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT

August 13, 2017

 

President Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Trump,

My name is Elizabeth Chaplin and I live in Downers Grove, Illinois. I am an elected official representing approximately 90,000 people. The State of Illinois was home to a great man, President Abraham Lincoln. Not only was President Lincoln a great man he was a great leader. He displayed strength, courage and good character. He was also responsible for ending slavery.

When I woke up yesterday morning to the horrific pictures of men carrying torches through the streets of Charlottesville and read the vile words a deep sadness came over me. Those torches represent the worst of this country. A time of violent acts of domestic terrorism. The sole purpose of carrying those torches was intimidation. They cause many people despair and anxiety. The event was described as a rally to “take America back.”

This morning I have read that three people lost their lives including two police officers that were killed in a helicopter crash while hovering near the rally. This is unacceptable.

It is a hard job being an elected official. Sometimes we are pushed out of our comfort zone. We find ourselves in situations that we never dreamed of. It is a position of great responsibility. We may have to take a position that may not be popular but is ultimately the right thing to do.

What we need now is for you to display the strength, courage and good character of past leaders. You need to strongly condemn these acts for what they are, they are acts committed by white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis. This is domestic terrorism. You need to say it loud and clear and you need to let people know this behavior will not be tolerated. Your words will ring hollow if you continue to allow the likes of Steve Bannon and Seb Gorka to roam the White House. These men and anyone associated with them must be removed from the White House and their current positions immediately.

Mr. President I am hoping and praying that you will find it in your heart to do what is right for this country and its people.

May God bless America.

Elizabeth Chaplin
DuPage County Board
Representing District 2

During my tenure as a member of the DuPage County Board I have had the opportunity to meet many outstanding people who are making a difference in our community and beyond, Dr. Lanny Wilson is one of them. I am very honored to be part of the DuPage Railroad Safety Council.  The 2016 DuPage Railroad Conference set a goal of reducing trespasser and suicide deaths by 50% in the next 10 years. On July 14th I joined Dr. Lanny Wilson and the Metra Board of Directors on the Metra 2017 Safety Train Excursion.

 ChicagoTribune Reports  the following….

Rafael GuerreroContact Reporter

On Friday, Wilson was one of dozens of officials on board a “safety train” Metra from Union Station to Elgin‘s National Street station. The Metra-led excursion gave riders a chance to observe safety measures the suburban commuter agency has adopted to reduce incidents and fatalities on railroads.

Upon arriving at Elgin, Mayor Dave Kaptain welcomed the contingent to the city, which he said has been increasing efforts to reduce railroad incidents, injuries and fatalities.

He noted Elgin’s Liquor Control Commission decision this week to disallow sales of single-serve hard liquor and of single bottles of beer downtown, which is of close proximity to a Metra station and railroads.

“We are going to reduce the amount of alcohol that’s sold near the train stations to make sure that people are safe,” Kaptain said. “We don’t always make the best judgments when we have a few drinks, things get less secure for us.”

Metra board member and Elgin native Manny Barbosa was a first-time rider of the safety train. Barbosa, a retired federal judge, said safety is of great concern to the board.

He mentioned one often-forgotten aspect of railroad deaths and incidents: suicide, which Barbosa said is on the rise.

Wilson added that suicides did see an uptick. Last year, the DuPage Railroad Safety Council presented supporting data on suicides, such as its steady growth from 2012-15. Trespassing and intentional death fatalities make up the majority of railroad-related deaths, according to the data.

Orseno said the agency is planning a more robust effort in raising awareness of suicide prevention, such as training some staff in the psychology behind suicide and suicidal thoughts.

“One of the biggest focuses now is to reduce suicides (on the railroads),” Wilson said. His safety council has listed a goal of reducing trespasser and suicide deaths by 50 percent over the next decade.

 Full story here.
You can learn about the DuPage Railroad Safety Council here
You can learn more about Metra here.

KEEPING A CAMPAIGN PROMISE-SALARY REIMBURSEMENT 2ND INSTALLMENT

DuPage County is home to some of the highest paid elected officials in the state.  That is why in May of 2016 I voted against the increase in pay for members of the county board and county wide elected officials. When I ran for re-election in 2016 I said I would not accept the increase in pay.

Below is the pay scale adopted by ordinance in May of 2016 for members of the DuPage County Board. The salary prior to the increase was $50,079.

Effective December 5, 2016

Effective December 4, 2017

Effective December 3, 2018

Effective December 2, 2019

$51,081 (2%)

$52,102 (2%)

$52,102 (0%)

$52,102 (0%)

In order to be in compliance with the Illinois Constitution DuPage County was obligated to pay me the salary adopted by ordinance.

SECTION 11. COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES
    A member shall receive a salary and allowances as
provided by law, but changes in the salary of a member shall
not take effect during the term for which he has been
elected.

Wanting to keep my promise to not accept the pay increase I contacted DuPage County Assistant State’s Attorney Rick Veenstra.  Through a series of emails and phone conversations we were able to find a solution.  The board members are paid from the general fund. The logical thing to do was to return the money to the general fund. Each quarter I will write a check payable to DuPage County and have it deposited into the county’s general fund.  For 2017 the quarterly payments will be $300.00. In 2018 the quarterly  payments will increase to $505.75

Below is the receipt for the second reimbursement installment.  You can read about the first reimbursement installment here .

Board Member Deposit Receipt from Treasurer - 6-27-17