Saturday, September 21, 2013

WalkingBy Nancy Thorner –

Property taxes, of which a large percentage is used to support our local school systems, are getting out of hand in many districts across Illinois and throughout this nation.  While a large percentage of assessed property taxes go to fund school districts, unfortunately the extra spending to operate schools has not improved the quality of education in the past twenty years. Why? For in looking at any school budget the majority of spending goes for salary and administration costs, not particularly to benefit students.

Although taxes are high in my own school district, Lake Forest #115, the issue hasn’t been bought front and center as it now has been in the Barrington School System #220 in western Lake County by Thomas Banfield, a resident of the Garlands Retirement Community and Chairman of the Garlands Members Advisory Committee.

Having first met Mr. Banfield when I attended a lecture sponsored by the Barrington History Museum in Lake County at the Garlands Performing Arts Center in Barrington, Illinois, on August 26, Banfield was introduced as a retired Commander U.S. Navy and Nuclear Submariner.  Subsequently, Mr. Banfield spoke about the U.S. nuclear submarine program under Admiral Rickover and the tragic loss of the USS Thresher over 50 years ago.   My two-part writeup of Banfield’s lecture was posted at Illinois Review on Friday, August 30th, and Sunday, September 1st.

Recently I had contact with Thomas Banfield in a role that was a new one for me.  As Chairman of the Garlands Members Advisory Committee for The Garlands of Barrington, Mr. Banfield shared with me the concerns of Garland residents over the escalation of real estate taxes as they apply to Barrington School District #220.

Below is Mr. Banfield’s letter which, in all probability, is not unlike the tax burden some property owners and residents are experiencing in your school districts.
220 District School Board Public Hearing
Presentation By
The Garlands of Barrington
September 17, 2013

My name is Thomas Banfield. I am a resident of the Garlands Retirement Community and I am the Chairman of the Garlands Members Advisory Committee.

I would like to preface my comments by stating that we at The Garlands understand the benefits of the fine Barrington school system. We are proud of it. As taxpayers we pay for the cost – which is fine—as long as we think that the expenses are cost efficient and that the tax is fairly distributed.

When we received our real estate tax bill this year we saw that it was about 15% higher than last year. In looking into the reasons, we found that it was because the Lake Co. Tax Rate went up 15.3 %. So we examined the tax bill to see how much of the Lake Co. increase was attributed to each of the taxing bodies. We found that the tax rate for the Barrington 220 School District went up 17.2 %.

This caused us great concern, so we met with the Superintendent of Schools and the President of the Board of Education. They were very helpful in explaining the multiple elements making up the tax calculations and how the Board operates in preparing the budgets.

We found that School Districts are allowed to increase the Tax Levy each year by the amount of the CPI-U and new growth. This then allows the Board to increase costs by similar amounts each year.

The planned increases in total expenditures as detailed in the 220 District 2012-2013 Final Budget as of 4/13/2013 are:   FY 2012 $2.0 million, up 1.6%; FY 2013 $4.7 million, up 3.7%; FY 2014 $5.5 million, up 4.2%; FY 2015 $5.8 million, up 4.2%; and FY 2016 $6.7 million, up 4.7%.

This brings me to the main thrust of our comments. Being able to increase costs each year creates what we call a “mindset” that it is OK to increase costs each year by 1, 2 or 3 %. This is an inflationary mindset that, in view of the troubling overall forecasts of assessment evaluations and government funding, is not a sustainable mindset.

The total assessed valuation in Lake County decreased last year by as much as 10% in some areas. One out of seven households in the area suffered loss of employment or under-employment in recent years. School District 220 did not reflect any recognition of these two facts. According to the US Government, wages and salaries increased by 1.7% last year. Thus the income of our citizens is not keeping pace with inflation and is not able to afford the rate of increase in taxes of School District 220.

We believe that instead of increasing costs each year by 1, 2 or 3 %, the School Board should be looking to decrease costs each year by 1, 2 or 3 %. How can the Board bring this about?

Changing the mindset:

1. When someone wants to adopt a new and necessary program costing $1,000, $10,000 or $50,000, they need to eliminate an existing program(s) that is no longer vital to the school that costs $1,000, $10,000 or $50,000.

2. When the Board first meets to work on next year’s budget, ask each Board member to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

3. Ask the Superintendant to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

4. Ask the PTO to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

5. Ask the teachers’ union to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

6. Ask the teachers to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

7. Ask the Student Advisory Council to come up with 5 ways to cut costs.

8. Put out a suggestion box asking the students to come up with ways to cut costs.

If carried out, these suggestions have the further benefit of stimulating all the named parties to become more cost-conscious than before.

In summary, we are concerned that the current mindset of the School Board is inflationary and unsustainable. While we have presented ways in which the private sector would try to cut costs, we ask the School Board at least to hold expenditure increases below the cost-of-living.

This concludes my comments. Thank you for your consideration.

Thomas Banfield

Barrington, IL

Local school districts must be held accountable.  Without citizen interest and action school districts basically do what they wish and get away with it. They also are not immune to corruption.
Thomas Banfield is to be applauded for his work on behalf of The Garlands in Barrington.  It is up to each one of us to challenge our school districts whether it be on taxes, on issues of transparency, or on other issues that demand attention.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 04:34 PM | Permalink

According to an online biography, Bill Kurtis (born William Horton Kuretich; September 21, 1940) is an American television journalist, producer, narrator, and news anchor. He is also the current host of A&E crime and news documentary shows, including Investigative Reports, American Justice, and Cold Case Files. Previously, he anchored CBS Morning News, and was the longtime anchor at WBBM-TV, the CBS owned-and-operated TV station in Chicago (a role to which he has recently returned).

Given Bill Kurtis’ long TV career in and around the Chicago area, and his far reaching public role as a narrator and producer of documentaries, the name of Bill Kurtis has a aura of familiarity about it, especially here in Chicagoland.

Has Bill Kurtis gone too far afield in attempting to be an expert on subject matter of which he has no background to report or to comment about? This is not an uncommon happening among “celebrities” who feel that what they have to say is all important and worth listening to. Also at fault is a gullible, believing and trusting public audience who likewise lacks the knowledge to decipher truth from just a bunch of hooey.

As coincidence would have it, on Wednesday, December 5th, the day after I heard a presentation titled “Climate Change and Renewable Energy — the Rest of the Story” by Steve Goreham, Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition, to the Barrington Kiwanis Club at The Garlands Performing Arts Center in Barrington, a commentary appeared in the Lake County News-Sun by Bill Kurtis on global warming.

It was evident that Bill Kurtis didn’t attempt to do any research to write his article that rates an F in scientific accuracy, but instead used information that he had been spoon fed under the guise of consensus by politicians over the years and ardent believers of man-made global warming, most famous among them Al Gore.

Kurtis had the audacity to say that “a small number of skeptics have managed to take the adrenaline out of the global warming movement; and by creating the impression that there are actually two sides to the issue, they have stalled efforts to do something about it.”

There are thousands of skeptics world-wide whose viewpoints do not reach the general public, trampled down by a news media that chooses to promote global warming alarmism through selective reporting. 900,000 years of ice core records show continuous 1,500-year warming cycles, while carbon dioxide is to plants what oxygen is to man; it is not a pollutant.

Veterans of American’s space program are among the 49 retired NASA employees who in May of this year asked NASA to halt what they consider its unscientific advocacy of climate alarmism. Among them are Apollo astronauts Phillip K. Chapman, Walter Cunningham, Charles Duke, Richard Gordon (also a Gemini veteran), Harrison Schmitt and Al Worden.

Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, told London’s Daily Telegraph: “if it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today.” Aldrin believes the climate has been changing for billions of years.

I was struck at how Bill Kurtis latched on to the idea from James Hansen that a CO2 level above 350 parts per million isn’t safe. According to Kurtis we are now all living in an “unsafe” world when last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a 2012 level of 391.01 parts per million at their Hawaiian observatory. It is demonstrably not true that we live in an unsafe world, but it doesn’t shake Kurtis’ faith in ATG (man-made global warming).

Assumptions made by Bill Kurtis in his pseudo article on global warming cannot be allowed to stand uncorrected. Clarifications are found in Steve Goreham’s new book — The Mad, Mad, Mad, World of Climatism; Mankind and Climate Change Mania — which will make you laugh at the absurdity of man-made global warming — that is, until it makes you cry. The foreword is by Harrison Schmitt, Senator and Apollo Astronaut:

1. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas and only a very small part of Earth’s climate. (Chapter 5)

2. Earth’s most abundant greenhouse gas is water vapor, not CO2. While the CO2 increase appears alarming, mankind contribute only about 1% of Earth’s greenhouse effect. (Chapter 5)

3. Hurricanes and storms are not more extreme. (Chapter 7)

4. Earth has been warmer in the recent past (2000 years ago in the Medieval Warm Period) with no effects from man-made emissions. (Chapter 4)

It is time to reject journalists like Bill Kurtis who lack scientific training, and other who propagate their failed eco-predictions, false green hypocrisies, and outright fraud that is currently masquerading under the guise of modern environmentalism and ‘climate science.’

This nation has many problems, but global warming is not one of them. If the present administration insists on following through on what is a hoax, the results will bring far reaching catastrophic financial consequences for this nation and its people. It is folly to think that this nation’s industries can be run on bio-fuels, wind and sunbeams.

Perhaps nobody has ever offered a more succinct indictment of the global warming hoax than H. L. Mencken, who said: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

The Crabtree Nature Preserve Marijuana Operation, Part 2

Posted on September 30, 2012 at Barrington Patch as a Local Voice.  Posted likewise at Deerfield Patch on September 30 and Lake Forest Patch on October 1.
One can not dismiss the significance of the elaborate Crabtree marijuana operation discovery of 2007 as being inconsequential as Marijuana fields were found not only in the 1,000 acres of Crabtree Nature Center near Barrington Hills, but also in the 200 acres that extends across Palantine Road, that make up the 1,300 acre Crabtree Nature Preserve.

Five years has passed, but marijuana smoking has not gone away, and it still exists at Barrington High School, and arrests are made elsewhere in and around the Barrington area.

Many individuals really enjoy marijuana, and are of the opinion that marijuana should be legalized, comparing it to cigarette smoking.

Marijuana growing operations have been found in National Parks and throughout this nation, but why did the Drug Kingpins select Crabtree Nature Preserve in Cook County, Illinois?

What might have been the destination for the Crabtree marijuana had it not been discovered?

Richard Waszak, at the time Chief of the Cook County Forest Preserve Police Force, in an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune on February 29, 2008, stated:  “This is the most sophisticated operation that we’ve ever seen …”

In the 2008 article was an account of an arrest warrant being issued for a third person, while two men previously arrested on July 20, 2007 at their campsite were sentenced to two years, Bernardo Rangel and Juan Verra.

Both men denied knowing the mechanics behind the operation, and enlisted in Mexico, they were lured by the promise of money to tend marijuana fields, driven from Mexico and dumped into the Crabtree Forest Preserve to tend the fields.    http://articles.chicagotribunecom/2008-02-20/news/0802281156_1_preserve_plants-forest

The amazing Crabtree story began on July 10, 2007, when a summer Crabtree Nature Preserve intern received more “on the job” training than any intern could have hoped for.

The intern stumbled upon and uncovered an extensive professional marijuana-growing operation in a peaceful natural area well known to birdwatchers for its 263 different species of birds.

The intern also encountered three men and an irrigation system on this public land where camping is strictly forbidden, and this was immediately reported to law enforcement.  An account of what happened next is :    http:/

  • More than 30,000 marijuana plants were planted in rows, in 11 areas scattered throughout the preserve.  Coyote urine was used to keep small animals away from the plants, which were about 6 feet tall.
  • At the time the estimated street value of the marijuana could have been as high as $10 million.
  • A sump pump and generator powered the irrigation system, siphoning water from a pond in this Preserve.
  • The plants grew in clearings within heavily wooded areas, but  some were just a few feet away from heavily traveled highways, concealed by tall trees, and some were only a stone’s throw from the Cook County owned homes in the Preserve and some just a few feet from Rt. 59, the opposite side being Barrington Hills estates.
  • Repeating, the marijuana cultivation was happening despite three homes in the Nature Preserve occupied by paid employees!
  • Investigators discovered three different campsites with cots scattered around the growing sites, each camp site had pots and pans, food, empty beer bottles and insect repellent for those living there!  One camp site had a copy of the magazine, “High Times”.
  • After a police surveillance of the campsites, two 23-year-old men in camouflage clothing, Bernardo Rangel and Jose Verra, both Mexican immigrants, were found in holes covered by brush, and were arrested.  Investigators are still searching for a third man who is thought to be the criminal mastermind behind the operation.
  • According to officials, Bernardo Rangel had a permanent resident card, while Jose Verra was in the country illegally.
  • At least 50 police officers from nearby communities and 30 Forest Preserve employees doused the cannabis plants with gasoline in a burn process that took two days.
  • Gary Olenkiewicz of the DEA’s Chicago office noted that the crop was carefully fertilized and watered in areas that had been intentionally cleared of brush and undergrowth.

This massive operation required an initial multiple delivery of the pipes, pumps, generators, chain saws, etc., used in the operation, and, food, beer and other supplies for the men tending the fields.

How did they enter and exit the property to reach the marijuana field undetected by the people living on the grounds?

Didn’t the people living in the homes see anything, hear anything, smell anything, not even noise made in clearing the fields, cooking smells coming from campsites?

Yet they said they did not.

Recently a sign was spotted along Barrington Road that said “Watchman Residence” beside the Mailbox, but there are also other Cook County owned homes inside the Preserve.

Might residents be able to review resumes for the individuals living in the Cook County homes?

The Barrington Hills Police Station is adjacent to the Nature Preserve, whose policemen travel Rt. 59 hundreds of times each week 24/7, and they say they did not notice anything going on.

It defies credibility to comprehend how the largest marijuana field in operation at the time in the United States could operate night and day and nobody living in or near the Preserve, or passing by the reserve, saw, heard, or smelled anything usual.

No guns were found which brings up the question of who was protecting the $10 million Crabtree operation 12/7?

For such a massive operation, shouldn’t there have been more than three men at the site, with only two of the men captured and apprehended?

After five years, one wonders how hard law enforcement is looking.

Instead, the Crabtree investigation was short lived.  Following  the Feb. 2008 Tribune account, no updates regarding the Crabtree operation were shared with the public.  Why?     http://articles.chicagotribunecom/2008-02-20/news/0802281156_1_preserve_plants-forest

There were three additional discoveries of marijuana-growing operations in Lake County in September of 2007, only two months after the Crabtree massive find. Were these finds just coincidental or might they have been connected in some way to the Crabtree Nature Preserve?

The marijuana seizures took place near the Waukegan-North Chicago border, in rural Wauconda Township, and in an unincorporated area near Route 14 and Cuba Road in Barrington Hills, where a barn yielded five pounds of cultivated marijuana and a large bag of seed, and a semi-automatic handgun, and a .358 caliber revolver, and cash.…OKE_S1.article

Barrington and Barrington Hills residents do care about marijuana growing fields and drug Kingpins on the loose.

The Drug Kingpins are out there, but where.

Part 1:

Part 1, a continuing series: Crabtree “was” and “still is”: Prelude

Posted on September 26, 2012 at Barrington Patch as a Local Voice.  Posted on the same day as a Local Voice at Lake Forest and Deerfield Patch.

The Crabtree Nature Preserve Marijuana Drug Bust  “was” and “still is” the largest operation ever discovered in the United States!

In a time when Barrington area residents wish to think of their community as the closest thing to Paradise, the Crabtree Nature Preserve Marajuana Drug Bust disrupts their thinking because it “was” and “still is” the largest Marijuana Growing Operation ever discovered in the United States!

Barrington area residents hate to think that Mexican Drug Czars or even one of their neighbors are behind this yearly tens of millions of dollars illegal operation!

Yet not a day goes by when there aren’t media accounts about marijuana drug busts in Cook County and Lake County and their bordering Counties.

It is true that Chicago is a primary gateway city for the importation of drugs from Mexico.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C., Chicago has been listed as a high intensity drug trafficking area.  As such Chicago is a major transportation hub and distribution center for illegal drugs throughout the Midwest due to its geographic location and its transportation infrastructure for the retail sale of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.  It is, however, marijuana that remains the most widely available and abused drug in Illinois of folks of all ages.

Most of the drug busts occurring in Cook County and Lake County involve marijuana shipped in cars and trucks and marijuana grown in homes and apartments.

Unfortunately the public perception is that marijuana is an innocent drug, no more harmful than cigarette-smoking among high school students.

Marijuana competes with designer drugs, powder one sniffs, and the time-honored alcohol beverages from home-made wine to beer.

Marijuana really is a weed and easily grown, so it will retain a position in society, a seat at the table, so to speak.

An article by Cassie Goldberg published on May 1, 2012, is a must read for all parents, especially those with children at the high school level.    A National  Study shows that : 1.) Teen “Heavy” Marijuana use is Up 80 Percent Since 2008;  2.) One in Ten Teens report using Marijuana at Least 20 Times a Month”;  3.)  Only half of Teens, 52 Percent, now say they see “Great Risk” in using Marijuana regularly.

A  subsequent article will alert Patch readers to the harmful effects marijuana  smoking has on an undeveloped teen brain.

There are members of the Illinois General Assembly who are determined to see Illinois become the 18th state to legalize marijuana, despite all the hard facts that point to marijuana use leading to the hard drugs of cocaine and heroin.  Legislators in Springfield came tantalizingly close to passing a medical marijuana bill last year.

Video of the vote shows that the bill came within about three votes of passing, close enough that it can be called for another vote.  In fact, the bill could be passed in November when legislators return for the so-called veto session.

Barrington High School has not escaped the uptick of marijuana use by its high school students.

Many Barrington residents surely remember the elaborate marijuana-growing operation discovered in the summer of 2007 in the Crabtree Nature Preserve and want answers!

Described as the largest illegal cannabis cultivation scheme ever uncovered, it  became National and International News, was reported on morning and evening newscasts for a week.

Why has nothing since been reported?

Although the elaborate Crabtree Forest Preserve operation happened four years ago, law enforcement has allowed the entire situation to just die.  No Drug Czar or Kingpin was apprehended.

We expect that all stories have beginnings and endings.  There is a beginning to the Crabtree Nature Preserve Drug Bust, but no ending, yet!

Residents should seek an ending that makes sense and the czars or kingpins arrested!

Residents should seek answers to how the Crabtree Nature Preserve site was selected; the nature of the sting operation; the marijuana operation itself; how signs of its existence were totally missed!

There must be many Barrington area residents who do care.

The story begins when at 10:00 in the morning on a beautiful Saturday morning in the summer of 2007, residents heard the loud sounds of a helicopter and an airplane flying circles over the Crabtree Nature Preserve.

The entire perimeter of the Crabtree Nature Preserve was rimmed with police cars.


This was the largest Marijuana Operation in the United States, not the second largest, not the third largest.

*  Who are these Drug Czars?

*  Where do these Drug Czars live, in Mexico, in Texas, in California, in Chicago, in Barrington, in Inverness, where?

*  Who in Washington D.C., Illinois, Cook County, Lake County, Barrington might not want the Drug Czars caught?

*  Why does it seem that law enforcement in Washington D.C., Illinois, Cook County, Lake County, Barrington, Barrington Hills are not doing their level best to investigate this matter, to apprehend the Drug Czars?

*  Why were no guns found, when in any drug operation, participants always carry guns?

Part 2:  The Crabtree Nature Preserve Operation