I can’t believe the 60th Annual Carroll County Fair is just around the corner! I hope everyone can come and see all the hard work the local youth have done working on their exhibits and getting their livestock ready for the many shows throughout the week.
In addition, the 4-H Junior Ambassadors, who focus on community service projects, decided to support our Service Men and Women this year. We are collecting items to send overseas. We will have a collection bin at the CC fairgrounds in the 4-H Building all week, August 7-11. We will also have a card-making station in the 4-H Building for anyone who would like to send a card to a soldier. Items needed include:
Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, Q-Tips, pens/pencils/sharpeners, dental floss, Chapstick, gum, antacids, sun block, baby wipes, magazines, Sudoku/crossword puzzles, and small board games/decks of cards.
Please come out and enjoy the Fair and support our local youth and our Service men and Women fighting overseas for our freedom.
Carroll County Junior Ambassadors
Thanks For Your Support Means BOGO
This letter is to thank the generous people of Lanark and Lake Carroll for their wonderful support of Twice-Sold Tales, the Friends of the Lanark Public Library’s gently used bookstore. Thanks to your patronage, we were able to present the library with a check representing $5,000 worth of sales during Old Settlers Days this past June. We also appreciate the overwhelming assistance we have received in the form of massive donations in all categories of books. Your contributions help us furnish and equip the new library facility and support the library’s programs.
To show our gratitude for the tremendous support we have received, we are offering our customers a chance to buy one book and get a second one for free during August. (Crème de la Crème and Lanark Sesquicentennial books are excluded.) With our shelves full to bursting, and even more donations in storage, we intend to offer fresh titles after this BOGO sale. We hope this event will be a winner for everyone—good books at great prices for our supporters; more funds for our new library; and increased space for fresh titles for us. Thank you again for your support.
Denise Krysiak and Carol Kruzek,
Co-Chairs of Twice-Sold Tales
Wood’s Morrison City Council Notes
July 23, 2012 Morrison City Council met. Hayenga, Blean, Thorndike, Sullivan, Zuidema, Wood and Rose were present. Kallemeyn was excused. Mayor Drey, City Clerk Schroeder, Treasurer Huling, CA Wise, Sergeant Rice, and Attorney Reese were present with a full house of residents.
Public Comment: Tom Green and Dave Swearinger discussed video gaming. A gaming tax of 30% is imposed on all monies put into each terminal minus credits paid out - which the city of Morrison would realize 5%. Only licensed establishments (taverns) can operate up to 5 terminals. Only people 21 and over can use the terminals. Mayor Drey said it pays something like the lottery.
Treasurer Huling stated that I had asked him about the Sports Complex transactions. The beginning balance was NEGATIVE $84,254.35, income of $45,851.98, expenses of $88,172.57 leaving the ending cash balance as NEGATIVE $126,574.94. How do we keep getting deeper in the hole at the Sports Complex? Jim Dubois will have to keep a better eye on the spending.
CA Wise gave a presentation on Transportation Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. An Ad Hoc committee of Leo Sullivan, Gus Hayenga, CA Wise, Gary Tresenriter with Fehr-Graham (city engineer) have been meeting over a month and drew up plans for the city. There has always been some money budgeted to fill pot holes and small repairs. Motor Fuel Tax (about $110,000) is earmarked for streets and repair. The past few years it has been used for “street lighting”. The General Obligation Bond (paying for the Sports Complex) should be paid off in 10 years (2022).The aldermen are to discuss with residents if they would consider having a REFERENDUM to increase Morrison sales tax by one half of 1% or raising property taxes by a percentage to generate funds for street repair. BE SURE TO CONTACT YOUR ALDERMAN AND VOICE YOUR OPINION--REFERENDUM RAISING TAXES OR NO REFERENDUM.
Upcoming street closures: 1) Antique Tractor Drive on August 13 from 7:30 am to 8:30 am.
2) Morrison Christian Reformed Church-300 W. South Street-between Orange and Grape on August 17 and 18 for a rehearsal and wedding. 3) CAPA-East Main St and East Market St.; Genesee and N. Base on September 15 and 16 for PAINT THE TOWN. 4) Morrison Rotary-Genesee Avenue from Winfield to Lister/Prairie Center Road and Academic Drive from Genesee Avenue to Southside School parking lot on September 15 from 7 am to noon for Harvest Hammer.
I had questions about 101/103 W. Main---did the City of Morrison get what it paid for?
We have made the final payment on the Web site. It should be up and running September 1, 2012 with the ordinances available on line at that time.
Fehr-Graham will be doing a low/moderate income survey. The city needs 75% of residents to return the survey in order to be eligible for a DCEO grant to help supplement the budget.
CA Wise proposed lowering the speed limit in all residential areas in Morrison to 25 MPH and is having an ordinance drawn up to present to council on Aug 13 meeting to be voted on. My questions were: Will the City have to purchase 25 mph signs to place on all streets? If so, at what cost? Presently the city goes by state law which is 30 MPH on city streets with no signage. CA Wise said we would only need signs on the edges of town. (I think we need more information there). So I asked will Route 30 and Route 78 speed limits drop down to 25 MPH also, since they are the busiest residential streets in town. I was told “NO” because they are state highways. I would like to know why we are trying to lower the speed limit-is there a big problem now? Shouldn’t we just be enforcing the laws we already have on the books? BE SURE TO CALL YOUR ALDERMEN WITH YOUR OPINION. Thecity1.com is hosting a survey on the bottom of their home page…be sure to go there and vote.
I hope everyone is opening their mail…..opt out papers from FirstEnergy are in the mail. The return address is: Electric Governmental Aggregation Program. If you want to opt out, you need to send back the paperwork. If you want to go with FirstEnergy for your electric aggregation-do nothing.
Believe it or not-the meeting lasted only one hour!!! The next Morrison City Council meeting will be August 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the County Board Room. We need all of you to come, stay for the entire meeting and hear first-hand what is going on in your town. Call city hall at: 815-772-7657 and voice your opinion and to get your alderman’s number to call them! Love to hear what our residents have to say! See you there!
A Morrison Taxpayer,
Asking Questions in Morrison
As usual there was a lot to look over before a Morrison City Council Meeting held July 23, 2012. I had talked to CA Wise two (2) weeks earlier with concerns before the sale of 101/103 W. Main. I thought he was going to talk to city attorney, Tim Zollinger, to see if the City of Morrison got what we paid for. Well, at the meeting Monday, it seems he had not. I requested contracts and change orders pertaining to the reconstruction of 101 W. Main. I received a Proposed contract-dated June 23, 2009, some change orders, letters, etc.
In the information from a FOIA request provided to me was the proposed contract dated June 23, 2009. A letter from the City of Morrison to Ken Crane of Key Builders dated June 24, 2009 was NOT signed by Tim Long. I don’t know who signed it, so not sure if that is okay. On change order #1 dated Sept. 17, 2009- the pre-construction phase – Key Builders requested amount of change was $7117.81— that was in addition to the $24,875.00 Pre-construction portion of the contract equaling $31,992.81. Proposal dated Sept. 24, 2009 from H & H Builders, Inc. Mendota, IL to Key Builders attention Ken Crane stating what they would be doing for $42,378.00 included temporary plywood enclosures for windows and doors . . . this was not a change order.
Change order #2 states: This Change order Eliminates bid of $335,125.00 and modifies the contract between the city of Morrison and Key Builders Construction, Inc. dated JUNE 3, 2009 (which is prior to the date the proposed contract was dated and signed). Where is that contract? The one I got was the “proposed contract” dated June 23, 2009. Change order #3 dated October 5, 2009 - dropped the amount to $244,454.50---City aldermen chose Option #2, so change order 3.1 was accepted ....to stabilize the building. There were 6 bid packages, project management and 12.5% fee included in this option. I did not get the definitions for all the letters and numbers like: D1.0; D1.1; S2.0 etc….so I am not sure we got what we paid for.
At the meeting, the city attorney said we could vote on Ordinance #12-24-Accepting Bid and Authorizing the Mayor to Execute a Contract for the Sale of 101-103 West Main Street. He said selling the buildings and having any recourse against Key Builders were two different issues so we could go ahead and vote on the Ordinance. There were 7 yeses-(which included Mayor Drey-something about needing a super majority vote again) and I abstained (lack of information), Ron Kallemeyn was not present at the meeting.
Michael Blean asked if we would have the city engineers go over the specs and contracts. (Blean, Sullivan and Wood requested the engineers to go over everything). CA Wise stated that a code inspector from Rock Falls went through the buildings and all the contracts with Gary Tresenriter and himself and found it all in order. I presented a FOIA request for that information. CA Wise did not give me the inspector’s name, but I was told he did the inspection on his own time (free). There was no written report done. CA Wise spoke with Mayor Drey. They are checking on the cost for the engineer to go over everything and Mayor Drey will decide if there will be any further investigation by the city.
I am still asking questions.
A Morrison Taxpayer,
Governor Quinn was in Freeport recently and suggested a debate between the presidential candidates about jobs, but that’s a cop-out; I’d invite the governor as well. Losing jobs to China is regrettable, but Illinois’ bigger problem is the even greater number of jobs lost to other states. Here are some of the questions I’d like answered:
“Governor Romney: Chicago recently denied business permits to Chick-fil-A due to the religious beliefs of the company president, and Governor Quinn indicated his approval of this practice in response to a WLS reporter. As president, would you deny job creation based on a religious litmus test?”
“President Obama: One of the new taxes in the ACA (ObamaCare) is the Medical Device Tax. Forbes has estimated this tax will cost about 14,000 jobs. Do you have an estimate of how many jobs will be lost due to the other 20 new taxes in the law?”
“Governor Quinn: Due to the unemployed and graduates leaving the state to find jobs, Illinois has given Texas one of our representatives in Congress. When you took office, a ChiefExecutive.net survey of CEO’s ranked Illinois as the 48th most business friendly state, and we’re still ranked 48th today. Most of the criteria used to determine this ranking are entirely controlled by Illinois’ government. What are your plans to improve the business climate in Illinois?”
“Governor Romney: You retired from Bain Capital in the last century, and it seems to have embraced offshoring since you left. Although most of the partners at Bain support President Obama, would you, as a minority shareholder, be able to persuade them to put aside their political differences, and bring Sensata jobs back to Illinois?”
“President Obama: On Jan. 1st Taxmageddon, the largest tax increase in American history, is scheduled to arrive with 29 new or increased taxes. The Ernst and Young firm has determined this will cost 700,000 jobs. Will you tell these 700,000 unemployed that it’s not really Taxmageddon, it’s the end of the Mayan Calender, or Bush’s Fault?”
“Governor Quinn: President Obama has been creating plenty of jobs in Texas, the #1 CEO ranked state. Do you expect a president to create Illinois jobs, or are you going to start doing yours?”
2010 - G.W. Bush’s book “Decision Points,” Bush is quoted: “This is not a traditional memoir but an actual account of the key decisions in my life.”
The reality of his book - a fictional account made up out of GWB’s imagination and not the reality of his actions. Instead, it is a glossing over of the true facts of his decisions to try to erase his negative image. “Decision Points” should have been shelved under Fiction.
Thankfully, GWB left office, free to cut through the tangled brush at his Texas ranch, leaving the problems he created for the next president to untangle.
2012 - G.W. Bush’s upcoming book are accounts of his life and the opinions of various economists on how to fix the economy. G.W. Bush did “fix” our country’s economy, putting the country in a deep, deep hole.
Step by step and forthright, President Obama has been untangling GWB’s financial messes and has strengthened and added to the security of our country and our people.
G.W. Bush’s upcoming book should be shelved under Hindsight.
Alderman Sisler’s letter to the Mirror-Democrat (July 18, 2012) reported that Mayor Bates had stopped calling for a City Council vote to approve the city financial report – also sometimes referred to as the ‘bank balances report.’ Alderman Sisler went on to speculate as to how unauthorized changes in the city’s financial position could occur and not be caught, questioned and/or corrected.
Last week Alderman Bergren responded to Alderman Sisler’s remarks and informed us that “…the finance committee reviews…the city’s finances very carefully…” and that citizens need not fear that something is amiss with our tax dollars.
As a former alderman and interested citizen I have spent considerable time - in the past and currently - reviewing the city’s financial situation. All municipal records (except employee personal information including social security numbers) are public records and available for inspection under the Illinois Municipal Code and the Freedom of Information statutes. This access includes time cards and payroll records. The state law does not require permission from the mayor or any other elected individual for this information to be released. Elected city officials are authorized under the Municipal Code to review city financial information at ANY time. Citizens submit FOIA requests. It is NOT illegal for any taxpayer to review city financial records or those of any taxpayer sourced funds. Under the law, statements – whether by the mayor or city attorney - suggesting that a review requires prior permission are simply false per Illinois law.
In my experience and observation over the recent months, members of the city Finance Committee do review individual bills for payment, but that is not the issue. I wonder whether their oversight actually goes beyond that initial step. Alderman Bergren has stated in open Council meeting that he is unwilling to read the City ordinances “…at night or on weekends…” so it seems unlikely that he would be willing to spend his free time studying city financial reports. If finance committee chair Alderman Charles and Alderman Risko spent their free time reading all the city’s finance reports, they would know that balances shown on the bank balance report are frequently if not regularly at odds with prior bank balance reports as well as with the monthly financial reports. And the monthly reports in turn are frequently if not regularly at odds with the figures in the annual audit which is based on figures provided by the city.
I have spent countless hours trying to understand what the city’s financial position is because it appears since 2007 the reports stopped reconciling. Bank balance reports consistently show errors, just as the duplicate time card records do not reconcile. It is impossible to know what the correct fund balances are much less what the city’s overall financial state is without going back many years with a fine tooth comb. Does this leave room for financial hanky panky? I’ll let you be the judge.
Bringing these discrepancies to the attention of the Mayor and Clerk and “...it-is-your-duty–to-vote-yes” City Council triggers no concern whatsoever and only brings out the magic wand of “…I’ve checked the ___ (you fill in the blank) and it is perfectly alright….”And then the personal attacks and smears begin. The standard responses that “…we have always done it that way before…” or “…all small towns do it…” are not the right answers in a clean, well-run city government.
Mount Carroll’s government is dominated by the mayor and clerk and city attorney, both who have been in place for more than 30 years and on whose watch these conditions have developed. Going against the tide to do the right thing takes guts and persistence. Taxpayers should be commending Aldermen Sisler and Bork with loud thank you’s for having the courage and independent thinking to ask tough questions and not becoming rubber stamps.
Credit where credit is due – It was Alderman Bork who initiated the move to change auditors and her motion, remarkably, was passed by the generally “group-think” Council. Thank you Alderman Bork!
The city’s recent auditors are a remnant of the auditing firm first hired for the 2004 audit and since have become an extension of the city. Our (now former) auditors were not watchdogs - by their own admission which they specifically state in their annual audit reports. The auditors have not vouched for the figures that were provided to them. However that arm’s length policy does not extend to their relationship with City Hall which can only be described as cozy.
When made aware of some of the issues in the city’s finances, our auditors went directly to the source of the problem where they got the standard brush off. For what it is worth, I believe this group might have had a common connection with the audit firm used by the city of Dixon. That Dixon’s finances were so horribly wrong for many years without disclosure says that an auditor’s approval is only as good as the figures submitted to it. The Mayor’s reliance on the City’s audit reports carries no assurance of accuracy.
Lastly, my experience of representing Ward 1 on the City Council taught me a great deal about municipal government and also about the dynamics of politics, at least as they are practiced in Mount Carroll. I learned that actively standing up for the best interests of my ward and the city taxpayers in general takes courage because the leadership style on the present Council is one of intimidation and personal attacks. I could and cannot believe that the bully leadership practiced in Mount Carroll is typical, and to research this concern, I have attended City Council in neighboring communities. I have seen first hand that Mount Carroll is the exception rather than the rule.
When leaders respond to Aldermen and citizens during open Council meetings with comical faces, smirks, snickers, and eye rolling, one can only wonder why they consider belittling other people to be an appropriate response. One wonders why city money seems to be given away without proper oversight (the Mayor recently suggested that the City might purchase a furnace for a homeowner – I suggest people get in line for their new furnace), or why we learn that Illinois laws do not seem to apply in this municipality. Or why it takes lawsuits for Mount Carroll to comply with the law. Or why it takes confrontation to have the city water crew flush the water lines and hydrants every few years when other cities – Lanark for example – flush twice or three times annually? Or why our historic iron bridge hasn’t been maintained to the point now that it must be replaced at enormous expense? The list of questions goes on. Why? Why?
Ah! you say. You have not heard those things? How could they be true? Cooper must be another malcontent. Yet having peaked inside the workings of City Hall I learned much about the skeletons in the closet. Perhaps the public is unaware of the mess because the Mayor, Clerk, City Attorney and Council would prefer that you do not know. After all, the Mayor says that “…everything is perfectly alright….” In this city of rosy glasses, the Mayor and his friends make the decisions without question. The rest of us just have to trust in the Mayor’s leadership and financial judgment.
Former Ward 1 Alderman and concerned taxpayer
Mount Carroll, IL
I find it very appalling that so many of our elected officials have such a low regard and respect for the people that they have had the privilege or luck that they themselves have had.
A good example is Representative Jim Sacia, who almost demonizes all low income, and working families. He instead favors the higher income families and corporations that receive subsidies from the taxpayers. There are two main reasons family businesses incorporate. Number one is the tax breaks, and the second is individual liability. Sue the corporation but not the individual. The individual is almost immune from lawsuits of any nature.
Jim Sacia has been paid a wage by the taxpayers almost all of his life. Has he earned it? Many times not. Take our Congressmen from this region. They follow like sheep or mice, anything their party leaders tell them to do. Their main objective is to have President Obama not re-elected. They are against the Health Care Reform Act. In other words, if you don’t have health care, you will probably die a more agonizing death at an early age. Who cares? Does Shilling, Manzullo, Kinzinger or Morthland? Their actions sure do not show that they care. What have they done to promote more employment? Nothing. If you go broke and lose your home because of employment or health reasons, do they care?
This is my opinion and I would like to have them prove me wrong.
Gerald L. Bork
Mt. Carroll, IL
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
Two issues have been huge this past week. First – the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Second – is the opening of Thomson Prison.
I have received several emails saying see that’s what happens when people have guns – referring to the Aurora tragedy. One even insinuated I should be ashamed of myself for advocating for concealed carry.
Are you kidding me? Some wacked out nut job goes off and starts shooting people and it’s the gun’s fault? Have you never seen the bumper sticker, “when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns”? To me it says it all. Add to that, “You’ll get my gun when you pry my cold clammy fingers off from it”.
Illinois remains the last state in our union to pass concealed carry and yes I believe it will pass during veto session in November.
Illinois has not proven itself to be the brightest state in the nation. Sadly we are last in just about every category and last to pass concealed carry is not something to be proud of in my opinion. Nut jobs are going to receive their notoriety be it with a gun, a car, a bomb, poison, and what have you. Why do we give these clowns any acknowledgement at all? It’s exactly what their demented minds want. He doesn’t deserve the ink it takes to write his name, and he sure won’t get it from me.
For two and one half years we have been selling Thomson Prison to the federal government. The sale has been held up by one man, U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies. He refuses to sign off on the sale because he fears that the facility will house foreign terrorism suspects. What an insult to the citizens of Thomson and of Northwest Illinois. Over three hundred terrorism suspects are housed in our maximum security federal prisons now. Twenty six communities and organizations in the area have passed resolutions supporting the sale regardless of prisoner types. One U.S. Congressman from Virginia can hold up the sale?
My good friend and colleague Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) and I have sent a letter to Congressman Wolf asking him to release the agreed upon price of $165 million to allow the sale to move forward. Our congressional delegation from Northwest Illinois, including Don Manzullo and Bobby Schilling, is also advocating with Congressman Wolf to move forward with the sale. U. S. Senator Dick Durbin has always been in the forefront in getting the sale finalized. Simply put this hold up is ridiculous.