The Cook County Forest Preserves are mostly off limits for citizen to enjoy ! These parks have become “toys” for Chicago politicians to get their relatives and friends appointed to forest preserve jobs and Watchmen positions, with the perk of being able to live in cheap housing within the preserves in exchange for dubious watchmen duties.

The same is the situation at Crabtree Forest Preserve in Barrington HIlls, Illinois ! Crabtree Nature Preserve has just three well-defined hiking paths of varying lengths in its three miles of trail. 1,000 acres make up the Crabtree Nature Center. There is also 200 acres that extends across Palantine Road. All together the 1,200 acres define the Crabtree Forest Preserve. Hikers are expected to stay on the trails, all of which are located in a small area of Crabtree Nature Preserve near its Nature Center.

Signs are posted along the trails reminding voters of preserve policy, and wandering off the trails would indeed be foolish as dense brush and invasive buckhorn do not invite further exploration apart from what can be seen following the defined trails. Some might say that such caution is warranted, as it could save rare nature from over-use, trampling, wildflower picking, and such, but when a conservation policy has as its aim to return preserves to how they were before man entered the scene to alter the natural habitat, problems develop: 1) The expensive law enforcement department, with its political appointment, is unable to police the preserves, and 2) Drug czars seize the opportunity to pay illegal workers to plant and nurse lucrative marijuana field.

Such was the situation in July of 2007, where about 200 yards from a highway commuters hum along every day, authorities found 38,000 marijuana plants worth millions, described as “the nation’s largest illegal cannabis cultivation schemes.” http://www.policeone.com/drug-interdiction-narcotics/articles/1292910-Ill-authorities-bust-then-burn-10M-worth-of-pot/

Conservation also means paying attention by promoting ambitious programs to monitor and care for woods, prairies, and wetlands. Perhaps more natural burns by law enforcement are needed to counter the hands-off-approach now favored? Wouldn’t it make sense for regular visitors to Cook County forest preserves to take it upon themselves to report anything out of line? After all, it was an intern studying foxes who caught the pot farmers at Crabtree.

What about camping? As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 9, 2012: “A century ago, city dwellers and suburbanites alike could simply head to the nearby Cook County Forest Preserves to go camping — and could even build their own cabins within the preserves’ boundaries anywhere they saw fit.” In 1929 camping was stopped when officials became upset that campers “came and went wherever they pleased, littering the ground and marring the beauty and serenity of the woodlands.” http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/11739954-418/cook-county-fores…

The Sun-Times followed up with an editorial on May 11, 2012 urging that camping be allowed the Cook County Forest Preserves. “Let the tents into Cook County forest preserves.” Expressed in the editorial was the necessity to ensure that camping areas are not overrun by people more interested in all-night partying than in sleeping under the stars. Richard Louy was mentioned, author of the: “Last child in the Wood” and other books, who is of the opinion that kids don’t get enough time in the woods and how natural surroundings sharpen kids’ senses, lower obesity rates, and even ease attention -deficit disorders. http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/11798330-474/editorial-let-the-tents…

Cook County Forest Preserve Supt. Arnold Randall is currently working on a plan to once again open up pockets of the 68,000-acres which define the Cook County Forest Preserves. The process of developing a new Camping Master Plan was first announced in the Daily Herald on March 22, 2012. It’s intent was to assess whether there is a need within the county for additional camping experiences and programs to engage broader populations. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120315/submitted/703159511/print/

In a follow up report on August 21 by Dale Bowman of the Suntimes an early draft was released of the Cook County Camping Master Plan. A series of Public open meetings followed to present the master plan and receive input from the public (The elements of the draft proposal are extensive, Hopefully the proposal is not all talk with little followup no action!). http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/11798330-474/editorial-let-the-tents…

While a ban dating back to 1929 has kept tents out of the Cook County preserves, some adjoining collar countries have welcomed campers. Dupage Forest Preserve Commissioner, Roger Kotecki, has kept camping in Blackwell Forest Preserve popular and safe in part by banning alcohol, closing the gates to the camping area an hour after dark to prevent people from coming and going all night. http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/11798330-474/editorial-let-the-tents…

Jamie Sotonoff of the Daily Herald asked the following questions about camping in Cook County forest preserves in his article of August 22, “Cook County wants to expand, improve camping sites”: Are you in favor of new bunkhouses at Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington Hills and new cabins at Camp Reinberg in Palatine? Do you want places in Cook County forest preserves where families can camp?” http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120822/news/708229952/print/

The already mentioned Blackwell Forest Preserve in neighboring Dupage County has elaborate camping facilities. The following link ( http://www.dupageforest.com/Recreation/ActivitiesAndFacilities/Camping.html) has information about the nature of the camping facility — 62 wooded and semiwooded family campsites, open from May through September on Friday and Saturday nights with additional nights during holiday weekends — and how to reserve one of its camping sites. Blackwell also offers Youth-Group Camping with 12 semiwooded campsites that can accommodate up to 25 campers open the year-round.

Also in Dupage County, Waterfall Glen (http://www.dupageforest.com/preserve.aspx?id=4224) and Greene Valley (http://www.dupageforest.com/conservation/forestpreserves%29/Greene_Valley.html) have year-round camping facilities for youth groups.

Although not as elaborate, neighboring Lake County forest preserves offers youth group camping sites at Fox River, Lakewood, and Van Patten Woods. http://www.lcfpd.org/preserves/index.cfm?fuseaction=preserves.viewActDetail&object_id=145

With the camping proposals now on the drawing board for Cook County Forest Preserves, do you feel confident that, if followed through, the preserves, now advantageous for illegal marijuana growing, will morph into beautiful county parks as are throughout the world!

At the same time, citizens will be traveling just short distances to and from the parks, precluding the expense of purchasing gallons of ever increasingly expensive gasoline!

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Recent articles by Lisa Black in the Tribune and Paula Skaggs in the Lake Forest Patch about “big benefits” for ex-superintendent Harry Griffith are painful reminders of just how improvidently our tax dollars were spent under his reign.

Some will say that Griffith’s boondoggle existence is old news and that it’s best to allow sleeping dogs to lie. However, lest history repeat itself, it is imperative that the issue of squandering tax dollars remain in the forefront, even more so if a request is made by the Lake Forest School System for increased funding through its 2013 tax levy which should be made public at December board meetings.

It appears that the root of the “Griffith Gone Wild” problem is that our school boards enabled his every action. The boards allowed at least three major gaffs to occur in Griffith’s era: his grossly excessive compensation; his botched handling of the Steinert sexting scandal, including his proven lies to the community; and the huge increases in teachers’ salaries from 2009 to 2012, in which the majority of Lake Forest High School teachers (and administrations) received percentage increases from 19% to 33.114%, helping to propel LFHS to the #2 rank in top Chicago-area High School Districts in cost to educate per student.

In a Chicago Tribune study, Niles Township CHSD 219 ranked number one at $22,915, with LFHS a close second at $22,003. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-report-card-economy-20121031,0,6334118.story

Revelations in the Tribune article suggest even more sinister goings on during Griffith’s tenure, including conflicts of interest with his position as a Board member of Lake Forest Bank & Trust and overpayment for the purchase of a house used as a worksite for the renovation of LFHS – a renovation that itself is viewed by many taxpayers as an improvident expenditure of an enormous amount of money, putting a Band-Aid on an antiquated (though admittedly lovely) building that is unable to accommodate all athletics and all parking needs, adding considerable ongoing waste of student time and taxpayer and parent funds and necessitating future large capital expenditures for repairs and further renovations.

It is heartening the districts have a fresh start with a new superintendent in place, Michael Simeck. In that same vein, the community should start fresh with new board members. Both District 115 (LFHS) and District 67 have 4 of 7 board members up for re-election. It is time to replace them with residents who will commit to being forceful advocates for the welfare of all residents rather than simply pawns of the new superintendent.

For Lake Forest District Board 115, terms expiring in 2013 are for Julia Wold, President; John Julian, Vice President; Laurie Rose, Secretary, and Jeff Pinderski. On the Lake Forest District Board 67, expiring terms relate to Sharon Golan, President; Jim Carey, Vice President; Todd Burgener; and John Scribner.

Lennie Jarett, editor at Championnews.com, has set up a website, http://forourchildrensfuture.com/, for those who might be contemplating running for District 67 and 115 school boards. His website sets out exactly what is required to run for school board, what school board do, and how to file to run with the filing deadline given as Dec. 17, 2012 to December 24, 2002 at the district office of the school district The election will be held on April 9, 2013. Lennie Garrett will contact those signing up on his website and will walk them through the process.

Yet another cure for the ills of the past would be the creation of the new position of “inspector general,” an oversight position accountable to no one but the public. Residents are simply too busy to attend every school board meeting; moreover, many meetings take place in executive sessions. A paid inspector general could fill this void.

The cozy relationship between the boards, the administration and the teachers to date has resulted in colossal taxpayer expenses that must heretofore be carefully scrutinized. An investment of $50,000 a year for a part-time inspector general, who would ideally be a retired lawyer or corporate executive, would likely save the community tenfold without compromising the quality of education an iota. There is ample precedent for such a position both in the private and public sectors.

Just one of many examples of an expenditure that warrants further scrutiny is that of $183,000 for public relations consultant Anne Whipple.

Without casting any aspersions whatsoever on Ms. Whipple’s competence or her performance to date, it is fair to ask: Why do public school districts 115 and 67 need to retain someone to put a positive spin on facts to the public? Did the position of public relations consultant exist prior to Ms. Whipple? Why aren’t Ms. Whipple’s duties encompassed within those of our very highly paid superintendents who should be well qualified to interface with the media and the public? When, why, and at whose behest was Ms. Whipple retained? Was her retention another request by Griffith that was rubber stamped by the boards?

Arguably, since Ms. Whipple has performed many of the duties a superintendent should handle, her compensation should be added to the compensation of the superintendent. Adding her compensation to that of superintendent Griffith yields a yearly tab of over $670,000! ($363,000, Griffith’s salary; ≈ $36,000 cost of his health insurance; ≈ $18,000 cost of his car, gas, and repairs; ≈ $6,000 cost of his meals; ≈ $5,000 cost of his travel; ≈ $50,000(?) cost of his pension; ≈ $10,000 for miscellaneous perks; $183,000 cost of public relations consultant).

It is past time for a new paid inspector general position to be created in the Lake Forest School System to do what our boards have failed to do: be a watchdog for taxpayer interests to ferret out such excesses.

Many who faithfully read Illinois Review every day most likely refer to themselves as “conservative Republicans.” I have been concerned for a number of years regarding the future of self-proclaimed conservatives and their waning influence in the Republican Party.

In Lake County there is a functioning and active conservative group that dates back to 2001, the Republican Assembly of Lake County.

Years ago it was mandatory for RALC members to be pro-life, to ascribe to marriage between one man and one woman, to uphold gun rights via the Second Amendment, etc. Its Platform is closely aligned with the Platform of the Republican Party in Illinois. With a relaxation of membership qualifications, no longer is it necessary for a candidate to check “yes” beside all questions asked of prospective members on the RALC membership application form to qualify for membership.

The relaxation of standards by the RALC has resulted in diminishing the impact its members can have in advancing conservatism in Lake County.

Even when a conservative Republican candidate does attempt to run for office in Illinois, an attempt is made to derail that candidate in favor of a Republican Establishment candidate, as was the situation in Illinois House District 58 when Minority House Leader Tom Cross — who has garnered far too much power and influence here in Illinois — funneled thousands of dollars to the establishment candidate after promising the Republican challenger that he never became involved in Primary elections.

The same disregard for conservatives happened at the federal level when in the 8th Congressional District no financial help was directed toward Joe Walsh by the U.S. House Republican Party in his campaign to retain his House seat against challenger Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

If the Republican tactics employed to eliminate conservative candidates seem underhanded and unfair, there is much more more to fear in the near future.

In the aftermath of the Nov. 7th elections conservatives are being told by the top brass of the Republican Party in Illinois and at the Federal level, that the Republican party must change its stripes or it will forever lose elections.

It has been decided that we, as conservatives, are out-of-step with society by clinging to our pro-life and anti-gay marriage messages. But it is on the issue of illegal immigration where a Republican compromise would bring about lasting and disastrous implications that could torpedo the Republican Party out of existence.

It is regretful that a prominent conservative senator, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is suggesting that Republicans be more accepting and tolerant of illegal immigrants to win elections.

Do Republican (and conservatives in sync with Sen Rubio) really believe that by going Democrat-lite the Republican Party will win predictably Democratic voters over to the Republican side? Will the Democratic Party gleefully hand over some of its voter base to Republicans– Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote in November — just because Republicans are finally saying “pretty please, vote for me” to Hispanic voters? I don’t think so!

Instead, granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens would infuse the Democratic voter base with millions of potential new voters. Meanwhile, all the Republican Party would gain from any amnesty plan is the element of hope that their largess toward Hispanics would be rewarded at the polls.

In an outstanding video featuring conservative David Horowitz, Horowitz laments how many conservatives don’t accept their own philosophy to the extent that they are able to stand up to the pressures of pop culture, either too ashamed to declare and fight for what they believe, or not equipped to explain their conservative principles which far outshine the failed policies of the liberal Left.

Michelle Bachmann was cited by Horowitz as a conservative who unabashedly stands up and fights for what she believes (and she was reelected!). Establishment GOP leaders instead consider conservatives and Tea Party candidates and legislators their greatest threat.

It was through information shared by conservative radio host, Mark Levin, during his Monday, November 20 radio show aired on WLS-890 AM, that I heard about House Majority leader John Boehner’s recent power grabs and scorched-earth maneuvering in order to crush conservative opposition in the House.

On November 20 Levin read to his radio listeners a commentary by Daniel Horowitz, Boehner’s Irony, that disputes the claim that Boehner is weak and flaccid in the face of adversity. On the contrary, Boehner has reorganized the House so conservatives will be relegated to the back burner without a voice.

In light of Boehner’s scorched earth tactics and aggressiveness against House conservatives, it is not unreasonable to expect that Boehner, in future negotiation with Democrats, will reach across the aisle, even when promising otherwise, in order to win the mantle of bi-partisanship which Republican leaders seem to crave when in power. For Boehner, not unlike other powerful establishment Republican leaders, folds like cheap a accordion when faced with Democrat masters.

Conveniently forgotten by Republicans is that Democrats in power crush all opposition that impedes them from attaining their Statist goals. Boehner, nevertheless, has created what appears to be a free rein for himself in capitulating to Democrats on a laundry list of policy items.

Why? Because both parties want big government as it offers them more spoils to split between them. Boehner’s dictatorial action in the House therefore seems to signal Republican Establishment desperation. Action had to be taken in the House to relegate Republican conservative legislators to the back burner. Beware of Boehner’s recent announcement that Obamacare is on the table for fiscal cliff talks, or that raising taxes is out of the question.

Republican pundits — Karl Rove captures the prize in demonizing conservatives — and Republican leaders in the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. House and Senate foolishly believe Republicans need to offer amnesty to illegal aliens and compromise on issues of morality in order to win elections. Instead, they would be wise to heed the words of Eagle

Forum Phyllis Schlafly in an article published on November 21, Political Parties Need Rebranding.

According the Phyllis Schlafly, the Republican Party needs to change its marketing and its economic message so the Party “can be rebranded as the party of family, good jobs, and superior weaponry that keeps America safe without war. Safe without war and Reagan-style peace through strength can help to win back the Millennial generation.”

To Schlafly, the basic Romney-Republican economic message of cutting taxes and regulations to enable people to prosper as entrepreneurs, innovators, and employers was fine, but it didn’t relate to the millions of men who lost $50,000 jobs and then had to take minimum-wage of part-time jobs that don’t pay enough to support a family.

Schlafly had this to say about how Republicans should define the Democratic Party: “The Democratic Party should be rebranded as the Party of atheism, amnesty, abortion, and debt.”

Lastly, Phyllis Schlafly believes there is plenty of hope for the Republican Party because 30 of the 50 governors are now Republican. At the same time Schlafly urges grassroots Republicans, with the help of Tea Party allies, to take back control of their Party at the local level and set the Republican Party on a winning path!

But what are conservatives in Illinois to do when well known Republicans like John Porter, Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson support and back Democrats, as they did in the recent November General Elections, while at the same time Republicans are being urged to vote the Party line.

John Porter endorsed Democrat Julie Morrison over Republican Dr. Arie Friedman in the IL District 29 race; Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson endorsed Democrat Scott Drury over Republican Mark Shaw in the IL 58th House race. What blatant dichotomy!

After all, elections are many times won by small margins. Furthermore, while Illinois may run out of money, it will never run out of corruption.

There must be a bit of magic connected to Lake Forest’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, for why would individuals return year after year to observe the big tree in Market Square be set ablaze with glowing lights? It is definitely the magic of the season that causes children’s faces to glow in anticipation of a visit from Santa.

Then to, the Holiday Season is a time of hustle and bustle for adults, with interludes of inspiring music and festive occasions with family and friends, all leading up to Christmas Day, which to Christians signifies the birth of Jesus.

Tradition is what drew me once again to Lake Forest’s 29th Tree Lighting Ceremony. Bundled up against the chilly wind and nippy temperature, I was eager to see what Art Below Zero would be sculpting in ice this year. Watching Max Zuleta carve Angel Wings out of ice, my thoughts wandered back to the day before and the seasonal Thanksgiving spring-like temperature, thinking at the time that similar weather would not have been kind to Max Zueta’s ice sculpture creations . http://www.ArtBelowZero.net

As tradition would have it, Ermanno Amidei, owner of the alley-like market place behind the formerly Marshall Field’s building, was once again roasting chestnuts with helper, Domenico Plandri. You are missing a real treat if you have never tasted a roasted chestnut! You can experience this culinary treat by visiting Lake Bluff’s Holiday Celebration next Saturday for a repeat of Emanno Amidei’s chestnut roasting.

Feeling the need to warm my hands I ducked into Talbots, but not for very long before hearing “Ho, Ho, Ho” which could only mean one thing: Santa was making his way to Market Square and greeting children along the way, eager for Santa to lend them his ear. I watched as Mrs. Claus carefully arranged a blanket on Santa’s listening bench so kiddies could sit comfortably beside Santa.

New this year was Raging Kitchen, hired to provide refreshments for the event. Through inquiry I learned that a Raging Kitchen Food Truck can roll up to your home to park, with a chef on board, to cook and then serve some jaw dropping, awe inspiring dishes with menus that change with the season. Raging Kitchens also does private catering and corporate events. Lines were long for the freshly baked donuts being handed out in small bags to each person from the Raging Kitchen truck.

With darkness approaching, I knew it was time to walk to the site of the sing-along on Western Avenue across from the fountain, led by Timothy Haskell, Director of Choral Music at Lake Forest High School, with his students, who freely participated even while on Thanksgiving break. It was a joy to see the enthusiasm of the students. How young they seemed to me, yet at one time I likewise felt so old, yet in reality was so young! This is Tim Haskell’s 27th year as Director of Choral Music at Lake Forest High School.

Prior to the final chorus selection, all eyes were directed to a platform erected to the right of the choir, Mayor James J. Cowhey, Jr., with his wife and three children, mounted the stage on which stood the old Lake Forest Railroad switch stored throughout the year at the Lake Forest’s Municipal Building. Cowhey’s daughter had the honor of switching on the lights.

With Lake Forest now festooned with lights, Tim Haskell led the chorus in the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, another tradition, having inviting all in the audience who had sung this munificent choral work in the past as LFHS students to join the chorus.

With the singing of this glorious choral work, Lake Forest’s 29th Tree Lighting Ceremony became history, until another year when tradition mandates that Lake Forest will hold its much anticipated 30th Tree Lighting Ceremony.

No to Obamacare and Medicaid

November 21, 2012

No sooner had President Obama won re-election, when the Department of Health and Human Services mandated, under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), that states must indicate by Friday, Nov. 16 if they plan to set up a state-run exchange, which is essentially a marketplace for people and businesses to shop for insurance. If states don’t set up their own exchange, whether along or in federal partnership, then the federal government will step in and design an exchange.

On the mandated date of Nov. 16, that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to Republican governors that extended the deadline to Dec. 14 for states to declare how they plan to set up state-based health exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The move seems a cynical one, as it will give the Obama administration, through the mainstream news media, more time to blast Republican governors as uncaring for not caring about the health care of the poor in their states.

States will also have to decide whether to implement Obamacare’s massive expansion of Medicaid. The suggested expansion would open Medicaid to adults younger than 67 with an income of less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which would be $14,856 for individuals and $30,657 for a family of four. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of services for new enrollees for the first three years, but that eventually would drop to 90 percent.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a physician, will neither set up a state-run exchange or expand Medicaid under the federal healthcare overhaul, estimating that the cost to operate an exchange in 2015 would range between $34 million and $49.7 million, money his state doesn’t have. In Bentley’s words: “I will not expand Medicaid as it exists under the current structure because it is broken. We just cannot afford it. The people of America cannot afford it.”

Some conservatives might find the arguments for exchanges made by proponents of Obamacare appealing, that it is much better from a states’ right point of view to set up state-based exchanges than to let the feds come in and do it themselves, but how wrong they are! Allowing states to be deputized as instruments of federal policy is just as bad as bowing to federal commandeering of state agencies.

As to the federal government being allowed to command states or their officials to do anything, this was settled in two modern commandeering cases, New York v. United States (1992) and Printz v. United States (1997). However, it is increasingly clear that the choice states must make is not really free, for states that don’t comply with the federal program are taxed.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbus are on track to set up their own exchanges, which would result in important decisions being made in Washington, D.C. instead of by the individual themselves. States deciding to set up their own exchanges have until Dec.13 to submit details to the the federal government. Exchanges would begin operating in 2014.

Many states are refusing to set up exchanges questioning the legality of the process. At least 14 states have statutes or constitutional amendments forbidding state employees to participate in exchange functions: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma,Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, believes that states should respond with a resounding ’no’ to creating Obamacare health-insurance “exchanges” or implementing the massive expansion of Medicaid. State-created exchanges would mean higher taxes, fewer jobs, and less protection of religious freedom. States would be better off defaulting to a federal exchange.

Cannon likewise views Medicaid expansion as too costly and risky a proposition. Republican Governors Association chairman Bob McDonnell (R.,Va.) agrees with Michael Cannon, and will implement neither provision in Virginia.

Arguments cited by Cannon against creating exchanges include:

1. States are under no obligation to create one.

2. Operating an Obamacare exchange would be illegal in 14 states.

3. Each exchange would cost its state an estimated $10 to $100 million per year, necessitating tax increases.

4. The November 16 deadline is no more real that the “deadlines” for other measures.

5. States can always create an exchange later if they choose.

6. A state-created exchange is not a state-controlled exchange. All exchanges will be controlled by Washington.

7. Washington offered no funds for federal “fallback” exchanges, so Washington may not be able to impose Exchanges on states at all.

8. The Obama administration has yet to provide crucial information states need to make informed decisions.

9. Creating an exchange sets up state officials to take the blame when Obamacare increases insurance premiums and denies care to the sick.

10. Creating an exchange would assist in creating a “public option” that would drive domestic-health-insurance carriers out of business.

11. Obamacare remains unpopular, with only 38 percent public support.

12. If all the states declined to implement exchanges, federal deficits would fall by roughly $700 billion over 10 years.

If enough states reaffirm their opposition to both implementing exchanges and expanding Medicaid, it would send a clear signal to all our elected leaders in Washington that the health care bill should be changed. As such Congress would have no choice but to reopen Obamacare because it would be difficult to go forward.

What would be so awful if states opting out of setting up exchanges allowed the feds to set up one instead? The government would then have to pay for the exchanges and be accountable for the results. This might provide leverage for rolling back some of Obamacare.

Under Governor Quinn the Illinois exchange mandate is assured, as will be the decision to implement Obamacare’s massive expansion of Medicaid.
According to the CATO Institute, expanding Medicaid will cost individual states up to $53 billion over the first 10 years.

Look out for more tax increases as Illinois slips further into unsustainable and irrevocable debt!

By Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill – First published at Illinois Review on Monday, November 19.

Barack Obama has won a second term. In our opinion, he will not change his philosophy that the government should control the country, even under pressure from his own party to compromise. He will be looking out for his legacy, however, his far left ideology and his cold personality will cause him to stumble again and again, but the media will protect him.

Obama has made clear he will use the next four years to push the generalized themes of “economic fairness” and a “new economic patriotism” in all major policies areas.

The reelected President Obama claims he has received a mandate from the American people to enact his policies. In a fierce headline debate over the approaching fiscal cliff, Obama argued that a majority of Americans agree with his approach to combine spending cuts with revenue. That means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.

That isn’t exactly what the exit polls said. To the question “should taxes be raised to help cut the budget deficit?” only 33% answered “yes” while 63% responded “no.”

Can Obama be stopped now? We see him making more and more decisions by Executive Order or by fiat through his czars in the various departments and offices. If he can’t get it from Congress, he will do it anyway. No one has stopped him in the last four years; can anyone stop Obama during his second four-year term?

According to OIRA data (Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs), as noted in a Heritage research report by Diane Katz dated October 31, a whopping 78% of the 151 regulations awaiting review have been pending at the office for more than 90 days — thus exceeding the maximum time allotted under executive order. The evidence suggests that a multitude of major rules are simply awaiting release next year.

Even more disturbing is how an overwhelming percentage of the voting public have no idea what they have done by reelecting Obama for another four years. Some might get it, but most won’t. Why such a grim assessment? Left wing democrat/socialist needed to create an environment by which they could best survive and advance their agenda. This seems to have been achieved when Obama succeeded in taking the ‘Curley Effect’ nationwide and down its wretched path.

The Curley effect, historically, has been an urban phenomenon, defined by Harvard Scholars Edward L. Glaeser and Andrei Shieifer in 2002. The Curley effect was named after James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston in the first half of the 20th century. It is a political strategy of “increasing the relative size of one’s political base through distortionary, wealth-reducing policies.”

Translation: A politician or a political party can achieve long-term dominance by tipping the balance of votes in their direction through the implementation of policies that strangle and stifle economic growth” (and by being Santa Claus to those who want Santa Claus (big government) to take care of them!). Sound familiar?

What should provide “Food for Thought” for those who blindly voted for Obama is the Department of Labor report issued on Thursday, Nov. 15, where jobless claims rose by a staggering 78,000 in the first week after the election, reaching a seasonally-adjusted total of 439,000. The highest filings for new claims came from Pennsylvania and Ohio where there were thousands of layoffs in the construction, manufacturing and automobile industries.

Do we have faulty memories in recalling pre-election media proclamations that unemployment had reached its lowest level in more than four years? How quickly this rosy scenario has changed. It only took an election!

In keeping with creating an environment in which the Curley effect could take place nationwide, the Obama administration requested that some defense contractors delay announcing layoffs until after the election. Within 48 hours after the election, more than 40 corporations announced layoffs. Additionally, small business owners are closing their doors, companies are cutting employees, or reducing the employees from full time to par time, to avoid providing health insurance. righthook38.wordpress.com,

The checklist below represents what we think may happen over the next four years. Action already in the works, or which seems assured, are in bold type. Both of us will periodically review our notations and predictions throughout the next four years. If an item listed actually happen, we will change to Red; to Blue if it does not happen; to Green if no action yet; and to Italics if we add items to our original checklist.

It might be of interest for Illinois Policy readers to take note of our checklist, as it stands now, comparing it to how accurate we were in predicting what the next four years of the Obama administration will reap.

One of Saul Alinsky’s theories (Rules for Radicals) is that you keep everything in a state of constant confusion and uproar and then slip changes in when no one is watching. That has been Obama’s habit during his first term.

May our chart help others keep track of the Obama administration, as its dangerous philosophical and unorthodox rulings, not in keeping with this nation’s Constitution, unfold.

ADMINISTRATION
□ Expect more Executive Orders, if Congress won’t act, Obama will.

□ Student loans will be waived by Executive Order.

□ Home mortgages under water will be forgiven by Executive Order.

□ 2-3 Supreme Court Justices will be chosen, all Liberal.

□ Fast and Furious additional investigation will be squelched.

□ Same-Sex Marriage will be established nationally by Executive Order.

□ Illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty and citizenship.

□ Keystone Pipeline will eventually be approved by Obama.

Voter Fraud to continue while DOJ thwarts Photos ID laws in court.

BUDGET/FINANCIAL
□ Unemployment will rise again and remain high, around 8-10%.

□ Medicare, reduced benefits, increased requirements, no money.

□ Social Security, reduced benefits, no money.

□ Medicaid, reduced benefits, more beneficiaries, no money.

□ Debt ceilings will be raised whenever the limit is reached.

□ Trillions more will be added to the debt; deficit will continue to grow.

□ Obama/Democrats will continue to borrow from other countries, primarily China.

□ US Credit rating will continue to be lowered.

□ Fiscal Cliff will just barely be avoided, taxes will be raised but spending cuts will be spread out over 10 years and will never happen.

□ GDP will stay under 5% growth.

□ Congress and Obama will once more attempt to grab private pensions, IRAs, 401Ks and investments using a GRA (Guaranteed Retirement Acct)/Social Security type promise.

FOREIGN/INTERNATIONAL
□ Benghazi – watch for 9/11 attack cover-up to quietly go away and disappear, Obama will stifle/thwart it, Congressional investigations will fail to get the truth.

□ Israel – will hit Iran’s nuclear sites, Obama will not help or support.

□ Israel – Obama will finally visit Israel.

□ Israel – Obama will once again push 2-state solution, with 1967 borders.

□ Iran – gains nuclear power, will change face of Middle East; Obama will do nothing.

□ Syria – Obama will not intercede in their civil war.

□ Egypt – Obama will continue to recognize and support Muslim Brotherhood control.

□ Other Middle East – Yemen, Djibouti, Somalia, Niger, Mali – terrorist control will increase in these countries.

□ Afghanistan – US will leave in 2014; Taliban will take over again in 2014, Obama will do nothing.

□ Iraq – will degenerate with possible treaty/pact with Iran, Obama will do nothing.

□ Unemployment will rise again and remain high, around 8-10%.

□ Medicare, reduced benefits, increased requirements, no money.

□ Social Security, reduced benefits, no money.

□ Medicaid, reduced benefits, more beneficiaries, no money.

□ Debt ceilings will be raised whenever the limit is reached.

□ Trillions more will be added to the debt; deficit will continue to grow.

□ Obama/Democrats will continue to borrow from other countries, primarily China.

□ US Credit rating will continue to be lowered.

□ Fiscal Cliff will just barely be avoided, taxes will be raised but spending cuts will be spread out over 10 years and will never happen.

□ GDP will stay under 5% growth.

□ Congress and Obama will once more attempt to grab private pensions, IRAs, 401Ks and investments using a GRA (Guaranteed Retirement Acct)/Social Security type promise.

GOVERNMENT
□ US Constitution (200+ years old) will be turned into a living, breathing document which will change whenever the moods of the Supreme Court, Congress, White House or population feel like it.

□ Department of Business created, adding a whole new department.

□ Bureaucracies will continue to expand.

□ More czars will issue more regulations without Congressional input or approval.

□ Watch for EPA regulations that have been sitting, waiting until after the election.

□ Watch for Energy regulations that have been sitting, waiting.

□ Watch for Transportation regulations that have been sitting, waiting.

□ Watch for Interior dept regulations that have been sitting, waiting.

□ Electric costs will soar as coal and gas plants are closed.

□ Homeland Security will leave southern border open.

□ Fairness Doctrine will limit/wipe out talk/conservative radio.

□ Cap and Trade will be implemented by EPA and Executive Order, crush business.

□ Dodd/Frank will be fully implemented, will crush business.

□ Department of Justice will push for gun control and get it by Executive Order.

□ More and more bills will be 2-3,000 pages long; voted on unread by Congress and the President and left to bureaucrats to establish rules and regulations to implement them.

□ Welfare state will continue to grow with number of food stamp recipients rising dramatically.

MILITARY
□ Continued reduction of staff.

□ Continued reduction of military pay.

□ Continued reduction of equipment, ships, planes, etc.

□ US will be unable to respond to multiple attacks around the world, especially terrorist attacks.

Obama goal of zero nuclear weapons for U.S.

OBAMACARE
□ Obamacare will be implemented by 2014; costs already soaring.

□ 30,000,000 Americans will continue uninsured, even under Obamacare.

□ Employers will cut staff or lower status to part-time; cannot pay Obamacare costs.

□ Obama will extend Obamacare to the parents of DREAMer illegal children, by Executive Order.

□ Unions, states, cities will receive waivers from Obama to exempt or lower Obamacare requirements.

□ Insurance companies will begin to fail, leading to Single Payer (federal government) health care.

□ College loans now controlled by Obamacare will lead to federal control of who gets money, what fields they can study in, where they can practice – especially medicine.

POLITICS
□ The Chicago Way/Thugs will gain more power, influence, control: Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe.

□ Bill Daley, brother of Mayors Richard J, Richard M. will run for Illinois Governor in 2014, will win.

□ Unions: Card Check for union elections will be passed/ordered.

□ Lying and hypocrisy, especially in the press, will continue unabated.

□ Bill and Hillary Clinton will continue to ‘advise’ Obama and will become familiar with all the inside action in the government, then:

□ Hillary and Rahm will run for White House in 2016 and will win.

□ Voter ID laws will not be passed.

□ Michelle will continue her programs on food control and obesity rules.

□ Republicans will continue to cave in on every issue; will lose the 2014, 2016 elections.

□ Obama will thank and pay off the following categories (some mentioned already) with funds, special bills, Executive Orders and new laws:

Unions – SEIU, Auto Workers.
Women – more special free ‘rights’ for women in health care and work sites.
Youth – will write off student loans.
Latinos – amnesty and citizenship for all illegals.
Gays – Executive Order for marriage, nationwide.
Blacks – nothing will be done; they will continue to support Obama.

STATES/CITIES
□ Taxpayer funds to bail out failing Democrat states: New York, Illinois, California, possibly Michigan, Maryland.

□ Taxpayer funds to bail out cities: Noted in Chicago Tribune of 11/8/12.

□ Unions: Attacks on Right to Work states w/Obama’s help.

□ Medicaid – no money, more needy, Obama will bail out the states (already helped Illinois and other states with stimulus funds).

TAXES
□ Obamacare will bring 21 new taxes.

□ Taxes will go up on everyone, including the middle class.

□ VAT (Value Added Tax) will be added.

□ AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) will continue.

TERRORISM
□ Expect another terrorist attack on US soil from terror cells which have crossed the open border, already in US, waiting.

□ Obama will continue use of drone attacks – other countries angered.

□ Obama will close Guantanamo Bay and move terrorists to Thomson prison in Illinois

UNITED NATIONS
□ United Nations will pass Freedom of Religious Speech act (especially protecting Islam); Obama will agree to it.

□ US will sign on to the International Court at The Hague and be subject to it.

□ Watch for several UN treaties, especially maritime pacts, which will be approved in the Senate, subjecting our sea vessels to UN regulation.

□ UN will pass an international tax on all stock trades and money will be redistributed to poorer countries.

□ US sovereignty will become subject to the United Nations rules.

□ UN will push again to get climate change laws passed. This time the US will approve them and the UN laws will supercede ours.

OTHER
□ The liberal mainstream media (ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, LA Times) will continue to protect and promote Obama.

□ Obama and Michelle will continue to have White House parties, play golf, travel, use Air Force One and Two as their personal jets; will live high on the taxpayer dollar and enjoy their second term.

□ Obama will continue to appear on celebrity shows even though he’s no longer campaigning, because he loves it; so does Michelle.

President Toni Preckwinkle’s vowed to take measures that would reflect a commitment to a new standard of oversight and accountability upon being elected president of the Cook County Board on November 21, 2010.

As Superintendent Arnold Randall noted upon walking into his agency’s administrative offices after his December 2010 appointment, he was struck by the vintage technology he found. Randall said of the forest preserve district, “We are woefully behind on technology. Workers still had to sign in on a sheet of paper; several employees were using their own tools; and there had been no job performance reviews for at least 15 years. http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/8182752-418/forest-preserve-audi-shows-agencys-technology-is-so-20th-century. html

AMD Business Solutions, Inc. was contracted to conduct an independent study with the goal of ascertaining whether jobs were properly functioning and correctly represented in each job description.

The audit included in-person interviews with 100% of available staff from May 9 to June 24, 2011. Each employee was asked 18 core questions related to job duties, scope, authority, autonomy, and supervisory responsibility.

On October 12, 2011, the results of a comprehensive desk audit were released jointly by Preckwinkle and Randall, almost a year after a review of the Cook County Forest Preserve District had been ordered by Preckwinkle.

The desk audit listed 118 recommendations to improve the Forest Preserve District. http://fpdcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012-Q2-Desk-Audit-Progress-Public-Report.pdf

A Chicago Tribune report slammed the audit, finding that the forest preserve was poorly organized. Among the problems was that its workers had still not received performance reviews in at least 15 years; there was cases of jobs overlapping; and many employees were unclear as to exactly what their job duties were. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/10/12/audit-slams-management-at-forest-preserve-district/#

In the aftermath of the not-so-stellar Oct., 2011 field audit report, Preckwinkle and Randall pledged to provide quarterly public updates of the District’s progress in implementing the recommendations. http://fpdcc.com/results-of-the-desk-audit

On August 13th of this year, the second Quarter 2012 field audit report was issued. http://fpdcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012-Q2-Desk-Audit-Progress-Public-Report.pdf

The third quarter of 2012 update will be posted when released at this website, http://fpdcc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012-Q2-Desk-Audit-Progress-Public-Report.pdf, in late October/early November. It is not yet available.

Was it possible for superintendent Arnold Randall to add the 16 new full-time jobs and the 20 to 30 new part-time position that he proposed in October of 2011? Even if the hiring occurred it is unlikely that more boots on the ground would have discovered the massive marijuana grow site at Crabtree in 2007. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111026/news/710269600/print/

Taxpayers know that corruption runs rampant in Chicago political circles, but would it be too much to request that the entire Cook County Forest Preserve Police Force be subjected to transparency?

Was Toni Preckwinkle’s suggested study ever ordered for the possible elimination of the Forest Preserve Police Department, as a cost-saving measure, made during the December, 2010 swearing-in ceremony of superintendent Arnold Randall? http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2010/12

Eight years earlier the 151 member police force had been ridiculed as The Tree Police and an unnecessary $7.5 million-a-year luxury by its critics. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1454905.html/

Might Alderman Ed Burke, counseled by his wife who is a Chicago Judge, take it upon himself to open up possible undisclosed, secret records to allow taxpayers to see the qualifications of present Cook County Preserve Police and all other Departments?

Before January 1st of this year, requirements for Watchmen resident staffers only included a valid driver’s license and a supervisor’s reference. Added after January 1st of this year was training and certification in chain-saw use and fire safety. Workers must also “report any prohibited or illegal activity.” Prior to January of this year workers only had to report so-called “encroachments.” http://www.suntimes.com/news/11713391-418/forest-preserve-adds-chain-saw-fire-fighting-duties-for-resident-staffers.html

Dense forbidding foliage exists at Crabtree, as it does at all six of the Cook County forest preserve sites. Wandering one foot off the short trails is prohibited at Crabtree Nature Preserve, as it is at the five other Cook County Forest preserves. As such, citizen surveillance remains non-existent of the dense interiors of the preserves.

Have the changes and measures adopted during the two years since Toni Preckwinkle took charge of the Cook County Forest Preserves been enough to stop drug kingpins from reestablishing new marijuana grow sites in Crabtree and other Cook County Forest Preserves? Government once again has shown its inability to evaluate a situation in a timely and efficient way!

It seems appropriate that the following unanswered questions be raised by citizens and taxpayers of Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, and his wife, since their son, Emmett, lived in a low rental house within one of the Nature Preserves until his death in a snowmobile accident near his home on January 31, 2004. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=13076663

1.) How often does this multi-million dollar Cook County Nature Preserve Police Force have officers ride into and walk into the six Nature Preserves?

2.) Why the Police Officers, and certainly employees at Crabtree Forest Preserve, wouldn’t have “discovered” the eleven huge marijuana fields and the worker’s camp sites by seeing them, hearing the Mexican workers working in the fields, or smelling the food being cooked at the camp sites? Afterall, chain saws had to be used to clear the eleven huge marijuana fields.

3.) How did the trucks delivering irrigation pumps and pipes, gasoline for the pumps, and daily food and drink to the caretakers go undetected?

Business cannot continue as usual. Significant changes must be made by Chicago Alderman, Ed Burke, other Chicago politicians, spearheaded by Toni Perkwinkle and Superintendent Randall.

Consequences for not heeding calls to adopt timely reform actions will allow corruption to flourish unabated, given a patronage system that has run amok.

Additionally:

* Chicago Politicians will continue to treat the six Cook County Nature Preserves as their own private playgrounds and taxpayers will not be served.

* Law enforcement will become irrelevant. Marijuana operations are only discovered” when kids are seen crossing the road with marijuana plants; a helicopter? flies over and it’s pilot spots two football size fields of 10 to 12 foot tall marijuana plants; and an intern studying wolfs finds two Mexicans from Mexico living in Crabtree Forest Preserve, and a massive “bust” takes place on a Saturday morning with a circling helicopter and airplane and many police cars in Barrington Hills.

* The 40 houses will continue to be rented dirt cheap to whoever is lucky (whoever the politicians want). Citizens wouldn’t dare ask one word who the renters are or if the renters work in the six Cook County Nature Preserves.

* The Cook County Nature Preserve Police Force and On-Site Paid Employees will never “discover” new Marijuana Fields. If marijuana fields are “discovered” by somebody else, they will say, ” they ain’t seen nuttin!”, like in Chicago’s Al Capone days.

* A question that only law enforcement agencies can answer: Why has the Chicago FBI and the Cook County and local Police remain lackadaisical in their efforts to find and prosecute drug kingpins?

DRUG KINGPINS ARE WILLING TO ESTABLISH PROFITABLE MARIJUANA GROW SITES IN COOK COUNTY FOREST PRESERVES, BECAUSE LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS NO INTENTION TO CATCH THEM!

ONE MIGHT ASK, “WHY IS IT THAT, AS CITIZENS, WE PAY TENS OF MILLIONS OF $ FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT EVERY YEAR THAT IS ONLY TOO WILLING TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY, RATHER THAN TO TAKE AN INVESTIGATION TO ITS CONCLUSION WHEREVER IT MAY LEAD, EVEN TO THOSE HIGH UP IN POLITICAL CIRCLES?”

Article to Follow: Turn Underutilized Cook County Forest Preserves into fully utilized parks!

Coming up for your enjoyment on Sunday, November 18, following the huge success of its opening 2012 – 2013 season concert celebrating American Jazz and Symphonic Pops on October 7th, the North Suburban Symphony will present its second concert of the “Around the World” season at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest on Sunday, November 18, at 4:00 p.m., featuring a triumvirate of German masters, Bach, Handel and Brahms. Bach and Handel were born in the same year, 1685, while Brahms followed almost a century and a half later.

Ron Arden has served as Conductor and Music Director of the North Suburban Symphony, a community orchestra based in Lake Forest, since 2006. Under his leadership, the orchestra rejuvenated and grown musically to be one of the north shore’s finest ensembles.

Also a competent violist in his own right, Maestro Arden will join other individual players of the North Suburban Symphony in J.S. Bach’s “Musical Offering,” a collection of of canons and fugues, all based on a single musical theme given to Bach by Frederick the Great of Prussia during Bach’s meeting with Frederick II at his palace in Potsdam, Germany, on May 7, 1737.

This work by Bach is rarely performed because of it’s tremendous progressive harmonies and complicated structure. The ten short movements to be heard are editor realizations of the original music that called for period instruments of Bach’s time.

Following J.S. Bach on the program will be a performance of G.F. Handel’s “Royal Fireworks Suite.” Originally a wind band suite, it was composed by Handel in1749, under commission by George II of Great Britain, to celebrate the peace of Aix-la-Chappelle declared the previous year. The music was to provide a background for the royal fireworks. The music was a success, but the fireworks caused the specially-constructed, enormous wooden building in which the musicians were performing to catch fire. Havoc resulted, along with a three-hour traffic jam of carriages, prompted when the thousands attending the event engaged in a mass exit.

As fitting the joyful occasion, the movements of the Handel’s Royal Fireworks Suite are pleasing to the ear, having delighted concert-goers throughout the ages. You won’t be disappointed.

Jumping ahead almost 150 years, Johannes Brahms will now take center stage as the NSS features the last of its triumvirate presentation of German composers, performing three of Brahm’s set of twenty “Hungarian Dances”, numbers 5, 6, and 7. Completed in 1869, the lively dance tunes are based mostly on traditional Hungarian folk song. Varying from about a minute to four minutes in length, Brahm’s “Hungarian Dances” are among his most popular works and also his most profitable. They are sure to delight you, with their frequent changes in mood, intensity, and character. It has been said that Brahm’s “Hungarian Dances” were influential in the development of ragtime.

Why not bring your entire family to enjoy a concert, at a price you can afford, right here in your own back yard? Ticket prices: Adult, $18; Seniors/Students, $10; Children under 12 free with adult ticket purchase. Tickets are available at the door.

When teachers at Lake Forest High School District went on strike on Sept 12, many residents of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and in surrounding communities expressed dismay. Often asked was whether Lake Forest High School teachers had a tin ear.

An article in the Chicago Tribune by reporters Lisa Black and Jeff Danna on the morning of the strike had this to say: “For the first time in the district’s history, teachers in Lake Forest High School District 115 went on strike after failing to reach an agreement over salaries during negotiations that ended just before midnight . . . Teachers set up a picket line in front of Lake Forest High School this morning, carrying yellow signs that read, “Lake Forest Teachers for a Fair contract.” http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-12/news/chi-lake-forest-high-teachers-also-poised-to-strike-20120911_1_lake-forest-teachers-first-teachers-strike-teachers-tuesday-night

Although many citizen taxpayers became aware during the course of the strike that far from being “unfair,” the salaries and benefits of LFHS teachers were quite generous — some would say overly. Although it is not my intent to open old wounds, transparency is necessary when called for, especially when as it involves taxpayers.

Brian Costin, Director of Government Reform at the Illinois Policy Institute (Illinoispolicy.org), compiled the following chart published on Nov. 3, using the IIRC database (iirc.niv.edu), that shows the average 2012 salaries for teachers in school districts that experienced recent labor unrest. http://www.illinoispolicy.org/blog/blog.asp?ArticleSource=5207

School District/Average Salary

Lake Forest CHSD 115 (went on strike) $107,172
Barrington District 220 (strike authorized) $80,451
Geneva CUSD 304 (strike authorized) $75,078
City of Chicago SD 299 (went on strike) $74,990
Highland Park: North Shore SD 112 (went on strike) $73,506
Evergreen Park ESD 124 (went on strike) $64,095
Prairie Grove CSD 46 (went on strike) $61,980
Carpentersville USD 300 (strike authorized) $61,714
Grayslake CCSD 46 (strike authorized) $57,358
Algonquin Consolidated SD 158 (strike authorized) $56,532
Champaign CUSD 4 (strike authorized) $55,185

The Illinois Interactive Report Card Website (iirc.niv.edu) is a good site to explore, as it provides a number of key statistics for every public school district in Illinois, including average teacher salary.

Here is another useful site to locate average salaries at Illinois school districts.
http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/5682239-418/database-find-the-average-salaries-at-illinois-school-districts.html

Although the IIRC website doesn’t include other high-cost compensation items such as health care and pension benefits, Looking at salaries is a good starting point for understanding teacher compensation costs that must be borne by local taxpayers. It’s also an easy way for every taxpayer to know how much the average teacher salary is in their own school district and how their school ranks with other schools in the states.

This is especially important when it comes time to negotiate collective bargaining agreements. For the next negotiations, which will take place in four years at Lake Forest High School, the public should keep a watchful eye on information such as this. The board should also have a better plan in place than to wait for a strike to occur at the beginning of the school year.

But this isn’t the end of the story. Bill Zettler (www.championnews.net/bill-zettler), author of “Illinois Pension Scam” and Director of Research at the Family Taxpayers Foundation, recently shared with me a study he compiled showing the percentage increase of salaries for each administrative staff member and teacher from 2009 to 2012.

The total cost to taxpayers to fund basic Lake Forest High School teacher and administrative salaries rose from $11,947,456 in 2009 to $13,463,111 in 2012. Zettler’s information was complied from the following website, which is an excellent source for locating “Teacher and Administrator Salary Base” information in schools throughout Illinois. http://www.familytaxpayers.org/salary.php

The highest jumps in salaries were among the administrative staff, but teachers also fared well. The salary of the Assistant District Superintendent went from $173,355 in 2009 to $206,469 in 2012 (33+%). A high school Calculus teacher’s salary jumped from $133,368 in 2009 to $158,843 in 2012 (25+%). Few teachers ranged below 10% in salary spikes. Common were 13% to 22% hikes in salaries from 2009 – 2012, a time of a sharp loss in property values and wealth in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.

As reported at an October #115 board meeting, the biggest outlay in the budget for 2013 is for administrative and teacher salaries. http://www.lfhs.pxxq.com/D115%20BOE.pdf

With the new four-year contract approved and ratified by the District 115 board and the LFEA (http://lakeforestteachers.com), following a seven-day strike which ended on Sept. 19, whipped cream can now be added as a topping to what were already Lake Forest High School salaries that were far above the average received by high school teacher in Illinois. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120919/news/709199896/

Although the District 115 School Board held the line somewhat, the salary portion of the negotiations included a 2.7% average increase in its first year and a 3.8% increase in the second year. Increases for the third and fourth year are based upon a formula tied to the consumer Price Index, but the estimated raises are 3.6% and 2.4% for years three and four, respectively. Health insurance benefits largely looks similar to the previous contract, with HMO and PPO family premium splits of 90/10%. lakeforest.patch.com/articles/details-from-lfhs-strike-agreement-released

Not bad at all when layoffs are becoming common place, when cuts in salaries are necessary for companies and businesses to survive, and where healthcare coverage may be lost as employers can no longer afford to provide employee healthcare coverage with the advent of Obamacare.

Part 5 – Historical Perspective:

On December 15, 2 010, Arnold Randall was named as the new superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserve by Toni Preckwinkle to replace Steven Bylina, a seven-year veteran of the job. Prior to his release by Preckwinkle, Bylina’s had received good reviews for his work from commissioners. http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2010/12/preckwinkle-names-new-leadership-for-forest-preserves.html

Following is the path Toni Preckwinkle took on her way to become president of the Cook County Board. With the position came Preckwinkle’s authority to fire and to replace Cook County Forest Preserve officials with those she favored.

Toni Preckwinkle was first elected to the Chicago City Council in 1991 to represent Chicago’s 4th ward. She held this position for 19 years until elected President of the Cook County Board on November 21, 2010, the Executive Branch of Cook County government. http://www.tonipreckwinkle.org/

Preckwinkle’s election as President came about in the wake of a scandal that took place in the summer of 2010 that included worker theft, employee sex and underage drinking during the preceding summer at a Cook County Forest Preserve District aquatic center (Cermak Aquatic Center in Lyons) under her predecessor, Todd Stroger, who at the time was in charge of county government and the forest preserve district.

Calling the forest preserve district “an area of county government that has historically been overlooked,” Toni Preckwinkle vowed, upon assuming the presidency, to take measures that would reflect a commitment to a new standard of oversight and accountability.”

Regarding Toni Perkwinkle’s selection of Arnold Randall’s to be the new superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserve, it is likely that Perkwinkle knew Randall before she was elected president of the Cook Count Board in November of 2010, as Perkwinkle immediately appointed Randall to her policy and transition team.

Officially sworn in as superintendent on December 12, 2010, Arnold Randall was charged by Perkwinkle to develop a plan that would encourage more public involvement in the forest preserves, a task Randall had already been engaged in as a member of Perkwinkle’s policy and transition teams.

Arnold Randall promised to hold down costs, while improving the forest preserves by taking advantage of willing volunteers from groups like Friends of the Forest Preserves.

Suggested at the same time by President Perkwinkle was the possible elimination of the Forest Preserve Police Department as a cost-saving measure, but not something she would work on right away. http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2010/12/preckwinkle-names-new-leadership-for-forest-preserves.html

Interesting to note is that eight years prior to 2010, Abdon M. Pallasch’s, in a Daily Herald article dated August 2, 2002, had this to say about the Fire Preserve Police Department:

“The 151-member police force–the state’s 16th largest–has been ridiculed as The Tree Police and an unnecessary $7.5 million-a-year luxury by its critics.” http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1454905.html/

On April, 2011, four months after the official appointment of Arnold Randall by Perkwinkle as superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserves, although sweeping reform changes and measures were announced in a joint news conference, targeted only was the kind of behavior uncovered by the Office of the Inspector General during the prior summer at the Cermak Family Aquatic Center.

Among key reforms: http://blog.cookcountygov.com/2011/04/04/president-preckwinkle-forest-preserve-superintendent-randall-announce-sweeping-reforms/

1. New cash management practices and a new credit card system;
2. Additional security cameras to be installed at all polls;
3. Wireless access for management to supervise swimming pool activity;
4. New employee training that includes ethics training.

Despite Superintendent Randall’s commitment to keep costs down when named superintendent in December of 2010, Randall, who was by now finishing his first year as Cook County Forest Preserve superintendent, and only a few weeks after a not-so-positive Perkwinkle-mandated field audit of the Cook County Forest Preserve was released, proposed adding 16 new full-time jobs and 20 to 30 new part-time positions, mostly at the maintenance and grounds keeping level, in October of 2011,

Daily Herald reporter, Jake Griffin, was told by Superintendent Randall that taxpayers can afford to add more bodies to its roster of nearly 500 Cook County Nature Preserve employees because the Preserve has been operating at a surplus since 2003. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111026/news/710269600/print/

Is this a valid reason to add staff in these poor economic times? How do taxpayers know if the added people are not just more politician friends or relatives?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Given that Chicago politicians control and dominate the Cook County Forest Preserve Operation, will taxpayers ever see the elimination of patronage, waste and inefficiency?

Only time will tell, but it seems highly doubtful. Chicago politicians engaging in “machine” politics have not gained a reputation for clean and honest dealings with the public as staying in power and money supersedes all.

Part 6 will evaluate the reforms and measures taken since Toni Perkwinkle was elected president and Arnold Randall was appointed superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserves in December of 2010.