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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Forward Friday -- Looking to a Post Election World

Typically in March, we see the Village schedule Budget Workshops in an effort to prepare for the budget approvals expected in April. In prep for this, there would be in January a series of budget amendments. As we are nearing the election, those workshops, budget reviews, and amendments are notably absent. In fact, it seems that our administration has spent more time working on campaign pieces for the incumbents, retaliation against our long serving clerk, blaming financial errors on others, and ignoring residents than doing any of the actual work for a budget.

I have repeatedly reached out to our CAO/Finance Director/ Budget Officer/HR Director/Interim Clerk/FOIA Officer/Etc. and despite knowing that she's opened all the emails I've sent, she's responded to NONE of them. Given that our employee manual says that disrespecting residents is a fireable offense, I would think a nearly month long ignoring campaign is disrespectful. I've called and asked for a meeting, told she was "too busy." I've also asked via email, and gotten no response. So, I'm thinking that my only option will be a formal complaint to our village board. I realize that they won't agree with me. I realize that they will not investigate. But given their repeated statements of a love for transparency, I would think that they would oppose our highly-compensated CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer/HR Director/Interim Clerk/FOIA Officer hiding from a resident who is just trying to understand the issues.

After all, doesn't Phil repeatedly say, "You don't know what you don't know?" Well, I'm asking what is it they think I don't know and to please explain it to me. If they shared and every thing was on the up & up as they claim, wouldn't that be the best way to shut me up? Why is it that not answering me is a better plan than just saying, "Yes, let's answer all your questions so you understand that everything really is fine." This is a spotlight highlighting that things aren't fine and they aren't on the up & up.

So, what will be different if you vote for the United4Lakewood Team? How will we address the issues differently? Here's some key areas that I see as opportunities for the village to improve that are important to Dave, April, Mike, and me (Tricia).

Real Transparency -- instead of a site without all of the meeting audio, poor site design and out of date material (anyone concerned about a Gyspy Moth spraying that is happening between May 1st and July 1st, 2015??) -- We will prioritize real and complete information sharing.

1. Return all the available audio of meetings back to the website

2. Re-organize the site to make it easy to find the board packets, ordinances, financials, minutes, and audio. Look at how clean and easy Prairie Grove's view is -- this village really has a good looking site that is easy to navigate with a modern feel -- worth a quick look.

3. Creation of a resident information center containing all the most important information to residents: Village Stickers, Lake Information, Garbage pick-up Dates, etc. See how Barrington does a Resident Specific section:

4. All pdfs and documents posted will be searchable (and scanned in a readable fashion)

Real Oversight in Financials -- we know that our current board doesn't prioritize watching where and how our money is spent -- we believe this is the primary job of the board.

1. Set a procedure that no board approval for spending will be reviewed without a basic financial statement containing: Where the money is coming from; the current balance of that fund/GL #; if the request is greater than the amount available, where the funds will be coming from (and associated budget amendment), and multiple bids or quotes for the service or purchase.

2. Insure that we are not wasting money on preventable fees, like bank fees. Are you aware that this administration has spent hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees? Yes, you read that right -- this administration who has millions of dollars in various bank accounts hasn't been able to keep enough in the only account that they write checks from to cover the checks they are writing. Additionally, there are three accounts that we pay monthly fees for because we don't keep the minimum balance required.

From April 2020's Bank Statement:

3. Ensure a truly balanced budget -- one that does not plan to spend more than we take in.

4. Develop a quick and easy report that will show the true the status of the finances of the village.

Real Respect -- We've seen months and months of public disrespect in our public board meetings. In order to change the tone of the meetings, it would be a priority to hold all officers of the village accountable to basic tenants of the Employee Handbook.

I don't believe these are really hard goals. What I don't understand is why these aren't the goals of Phil and his buddies. Why is he not insisting on these being the way things are run here in Lakewood. Does he think this will slow down progress in the village? It actually wouldn't -- it would speed things up, because money wouldn't be wasted, the public would trust your work, and you'd put an end to the swirl and the drama. Does he think that he is leading when he allows Trustees to be disrespectful to each other and to publicly shame residents? Does he think the way he handles himself in the meetings is the way the residents want the greater McHenry County Community to see our little village? Is this really the way to attract business to the village? This isn't leading. This isn't professional. This isn't working.

No, I think the reason Phil doesn't want to address these issues is because the minute you become transparent in the way you deal with residents, your personal influence ceases. You no longer become the guy who "knows a guy" and can "get stuff done." You deal with every resident fairly and equally --- which means there would be no special treatment because you are "friends with Phil." There would be no residents who have their permits held up or pushed through at the whim of someone looking to garner favor. You wouldn't have your tax dollars paying for a campaign piece. You would not have a President of the board calling himself a Mayor and passing out these business cards and telling residents it's their "Get out of Jail Free Card"

(I wouldn't bother emailing that address -- it's got a typo in it. And the phone number is Village Hall that Phil tells me he is never at -- but then claimed at a board meeting that he's there so much that his car is in the parking lot in a Google street view photo. While I'm asking questions -- if we've hired a highly competent person to run the village as our CAO, why would our Board President, self-proclaimed Mayor, need to be there all the time? And why tell me something else completely?)

I'm asking you to vote on April 6th. I'm asking that you give change a chance. I'm asking that you do your research and decide who is telling you the truth. Who is showing you all the screenshots and data and who is telling you soundbites that sound good but mean nothing? Who is sharing and who is hiding?

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