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Editorial/Opinion - page 38

Letter: Library director firing ‘explained’ but not justified

in Letters to the Editor by

As tax-paying citizens of Sugar Grove and library patrons, we’d like to thank Trustee Bill Durrenberger for finally providing some explanation for the Sugar Grove Public Library Board of Trustees’ (SGPLBT) July 14 firing of long-time Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes. Mr. Durrenberger’s letter is no doubt well intentioned and provides some sorely needed “inside” perspective for the board’s actions, but it provides no inkling of the “new direction” that the board reportedly has envisioned. And while Mr. Durrenberger’s letter may be an accurate look at the apparent reasons four trustees engineered Mrs. Hughes’ firing, the reasons he cites don’t accurately reflect reality as captured for the public record in the minutes of the board meetings during the last year.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, we are writing a long letter here because we don’t have time to write a short one. So, please bear with us as we examine the facts.

So, if the board trustees’ who ousted Mrs. Hughes “rationale” doesn’t wash with the facts, what’s the reality?

The March 24, 2011 SGPLBT meeting minutes show that President Roth did indeed discuss more first- through sixth-grade children’s programming during the school year. However, Director Hughes clearly cited several reasons for not scheduling such programming: today’s staff and funding limitations; overlap with Park District programming; poor past participation in such programs due to conflicts with busy after-school and extra-curricular schedules of school children today. In fact, the library does offer extensive programming for primary and secondary school children during school breaks and in the summer.

The point here is that President Roth did not at any time propose a formal motion for board vote to require Director Hughes to develop such programming, nor has President Roth formally proposed any actions to provide staffing and funding for such programming. Understandably, without clear board direction, Director Hughes did not pursue additional programming and continued to provide the programming that she knew worked for our community’s children.

As to the program suggested by a “volunteer”: Kaelynn Wilson-Bennet, Trustee Julie Wilson’s daughter, proposed the program in question. According to the minutes for the March 11, 2011 SGPLBT meeting, Director Hughes stated that such a program “would be complementary and embellish any current programs for the youth.” Following this comment, Trustee Sabrina Malano made a motion to support the program and “appropriate internal funding of $150.” Although this was the only program ever to be proposed directly to the SGPLBT—effectively circumventing standard procedure of proposing such programming to Youth Services Manager Sarah Barbel—Director Hughes certainly “allowed” Mrs. Wilson-Bennet to develop the program. In fact, it could be argued that Trustee Julie Wilson’s family relationship with Kaelynn Wilson-Bennet constitutes a conflict of interest and inappropriately added to friction between some trustees and Director Hughes.

Now let’s follow the money:

Trustee Durrenberger writes that the board felt they had trouble getting financial reporting from Director Hughes in a “timely manner or in the form requested.” Although there certainly had been problems and disagreements about accounting software and report formatting over the years, the recent dispute about financial reporting came about because Director Hughes combined several months of financial reports into a single document in her attempt to satisfy the board’s requirements despite her part-time work schedule while recovering from a six-week medical leave of absence due to a serious illness. As Trustee Durrenberger himself stated at the May 12, 2011, meeting in question: “I am saying that the woman has been seriously ill and everything else falls behind that. I’m not saying (the reports) are not important. She is our library lirector and we need to work around it. It’s that simple.” For those who have either been on the board over the years or have attended board meetings, trustees Roth and Morrical’s ability to actually read the financial reports seems to be a more serious problem.

Finally, Trustee Durrenberger says that the four trustees felt that Director Hughes made expenditures or fund transfers without “adequately informing the board in advance or explaining the matter after the fact.” This claim seems to most recently refer to a discussion at the June 2011 board meeting about expenditures and transfers of funds—and the meeting minutes clearly state: “Several Board members had various requests for explanations of several items in the financial report, which explanations were satisfactorily provide by Beverly (Director Hughes).” Following Director Hughes’ explanations, the board voted unanimously to “approve the financial report.” Clearly, the board has the power to not approve a financial report if there are serious questions about the reporting, but again, the board did not act or provide new direction.

If you’re still with us here, the more important point is one that Trustee Durrenberger’s letter does not address: the board’s undefined “new direction.” As taxpayers, we still are owed a detailed description of that new direction and a well-reasoned, business-like rationale for why that new direction could not include our director of over 20 years.

As Trustee Durrenberger himself concludes: the SGPLBT has “made a monumental mistake” in firing Director Hughes. As of this writing, the board is scrambling to cope with the latest fallout of this debacle: the resignation after less than a month of the new interim director.

And we taxpayers are still left worrying … about where the money will come from to replace the recently disbanded (in protest) Friends of the Library support—nearly $100,000.00 per year … about paying an Interim Director $80 per hour—reportedly twice Director Hughes’ hourly rate … about how we’ll pay for the board’s mounting legal fees at $180 per hour … about how we’ll pay for a search firm at over $10,000 … about the future of our library—a future that four Trustees have put in serious jeopardy without a single word of explanation that makes sense.

Jim Quinlivan
Sugar Grove

Editorial: Sugar Grove needs to rethink its TIF District proposal

in From the Editor's Desk by

For the past month or so, various taxing bodies from the area have been considering the implications of a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in Sugar Grove.

A TIF District is designed to spur economic development by drawing a boundary, and the additional tax revenue generated from within the boundary remains inside that boundary, earmarked to help continue the economic boundary.

So while it may be good for the village of Sugar Grove to build momentum for economic development, the flip side to that coin is that other taxing bodies—which also rely on the tax revenue from economic development within various village boundaries—would be frozen out of receiving any benefits from the development for a period of time. In the case of the TIF District currently proposed by Sugar Grove, that would be for 23 years.

This means that taxing bodies like the Kaneland School District, Sugar Grove Fire Protection District and others would receive no benefit from development within the TIF boundary for the life of the district, which in this case is proposed to be 23 years. In addition, the size of the currently proposed TIF District is massive, comprising approximately 1,800 acres.

It is not surprising that during various meetings over the past month, multiple representatives from multiple taxing bodies that would be impacted—the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, Sugar Grove Township, Kaneland School District—have expressed their concerns with either the size of the district or the length of time.

According to Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, who discussed the issue at the School Board meeting on Monday, the opposition to the scale and scope of the TIF District also includes the Kane County Board and approximately 20 percent of the properties in the Hinckley-Big Rock School District.

He said the district intends to speak out against the proposal at the Sugar Grove Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16, and suggested that both district staff and School Board members also attend the meeting.

We support the district’s position, which is that while there is merit to trying to spur economic development by using a TIF District as a tool, the current proposal includes too large of an area for too long of a time to be beneficial to the broader community.

The village of Sugar Grove does not exist in an island, and the circumstances that exist today will not be frozen in place for a full generation to come.

Each taxing body and each neighboring community is impacted by the decisions of each other, and to ignore the negative impacts created for everyone else in order benefit oneself seems to fly in the face of a true community spirit.

In addition, what may be a sound decision given today’s economic environment could create significant problems just a few years from now, let alone 23. For evidence, look at the economy 23 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Now imagine that today’s communities are bound by economic decisions made by a group of people taking actions based on the specific situations at those times.

If you think that one generation making economic decisions that a future generation will be bound by is a good idea, there is a United States Congress facing its lowest approval numbers ever that might shed light on how wise that type of thinking actually is.

We are glad to see our communities looking at ways to spur local economic growth, and we hope that they succeed in bringing new business and industry to the area. However, we hope that can occur without taking away potentially significant amounts of tax revenue for the various other districts for decades to come.

We have said it before, and we will continue to repeat the message every time it is relevant to the situation: We are a community of communities, and we must communicate effectively and work together so that all will benefit; and avoid situations where one entity is played off another, or one benefits at the expense of another.

We hope the village of Sugar Grove takes the concerns raised by the various other taxing bodies seriously and rethinks their current proposal, because while the overall concept is sound, the specific details leave much to be desired.

Letter: A Legacy of shame

in Letters to the Editor by

Four members of the Sugar Grove Library Board of Trustees—Art Morrical, Joan Roth, Julie Wilson and Bob Bergman (with a dishonorable mention to Sabrina Malano, who resigned before the action, but not before helping reappoint two of these, thus enabling the intention and ensuring the outcome)—have made a lasting impact on the community that will forever be their legacy of shame.

As many of you are aware, on July 14, the board summarily and without explanation fired the library director of 21 years, Beverly Holmes Hughes. Despite being an integral part of the community—2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year, a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce, continual volunteer and support to countless civic activities—Beverly was brutally instructed to vacate her office that very night.

What egregious or unlawful act had she committed to deserve or demand this contemptible treatment? No one knows, because the board refuses to offer an explanation. It certainly was not so heinous or of immediate urgency that it was obvious to all trustees—the vote was 4 to 2. In fact, at the July 28 board meeting, Trustee Bill Durrenberger stated he saw no reason.

Beverly was informed the board wanted to go in another direction. After being instrumental in creating the new library building, after making the library a centerpiece of the community, after ensuring the library would fully function and serve the public despite dwindling funds, in what incorrect direction exactly was Beverly going? And in what direction is this board taking our precious public asset? What vision is guiding them that necessitated this abrupt and painful act?

The only comment from any of the cabal of four, by Trustee Bob Bergman, was the almost comical, “We haven’t defined ‘new direction’ for ourselves, so I can’t define it for you.”

This board is more interested in vendettas and personal ego than fulfilling their public duty. This board failed to define expectations, with measurable metrics, for the director. Instead of their mission of general oversight, this board habitually meddles in personnel, program and acquisition decisions. Instead of following their elected responsibilities, they would rather act as amateur librarians.

This board has overseen countless failed referendums, thus failing to ensure the future health of their charge. This board has made numerous financial mis-steps that have made a challenging situation dire. Now add to the strain of limited taxpayer funding the unnecessary cost of hiring a consultant to find a new director. Now add unnecessary attorney fees being incurred to protect the board from the taxpayers. Now add the reality that the library’s strongest supporters likely will not work for future referendums. Now add the alienation of the Friends of the Library group, which funds programs and acquisitions.

This board has chosen to make the respected and highly regarded director the scapegoat for their ineptitude. At the July 28 public board meeting, despite widespread calls from the community they are accountable to, the board again refused to justify their actions. Over 75 members of the community—including the head of the Friends of the Library, trustees of the Village Board, a library professional consultant, and many regular library users—demanded for this action to be reversed. Twenty-one spoke against the board with no one in favor. The calls for board members responsible to resign were unending (listen to it at http://cl.ly/3B0B064 70l260d1T1I3A).

This issue is not going away, despite indifference of the board to those they are supposed to serve, as the Aug. 2 poll in this newspaper demonstrated when only 20 percent of over 130 respondents favored the board. Why? As this paper stated Aug. 4: “Whenever the community needed her, she has not only been there, but has been a leader.”

The next public board meeting is Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. Make your voice heard. It is past time this board cease to ignore those that elected them, cease to put their egos ahead of the public and cease the incredible harm they have done. Their neighbors have spoken. It is past time this board act mature, adult and admit a mistake or forever be tarred in the community. There are two courses available to salvage their legacy and reputations: either re-instate Beverly or resign.

Douglas Hartman
Past president
Sugar Grove Public Library
Board of Trustees

Editorial: No reason, no re-election

in From the Editor's Desk by

Two weeks ago, the Sugar Grove Library Board surprised the community when it voted 4-2 to terminate the employment of 21-year Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes.

No reason was given at the time, and two weeks later, no reason has still been provided.

Even when approximately 75 local residents attended Thursday’s Library Board meeting to support Hughes and to ask for the board’s rationale for its decision, no reason was given.

All that is known is that Hughes was told that the Library Board wants to move in a new direction.

What that direction is, no one knows. What made the board determine that Hughes would not be able to adequately serve in her job in that new direction, no one knows.

What is known is that Hughes has been a true community servant for the past 21 years. Her leadership in the library has helped it transform from what it was—a library with limited material and program offerings in a tiny space— into what it is—a vibrant center of the community that offers a lot while spending a little.

Yet, her involvement has consisted of far more than “just” as the library’s director. Elburn Herald reporter Keith Beebe wrote about the initial community reaction, as well as detailed the broader involvement she has had in the community, on the front page of our July 21 edition. Her involvement in the community has been so robust for so long that there is not room in this space to begin to describe it; the best we can do is summarize it. She has been a centerpiece in the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Sugar Grove Corn Boil committee, the League of Women Voters, the local farmer’s market, and just about any other event or organization that supports Sugar Grove citizens.

In short, whenever the community has needed her, she has not only been there, but has been a leader. It would not be an exaggeration to say she has been a cornerstone of the Sugar Grove community, as evidenced by the 2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year Award she received at last year’s Corn Boil festival.

And on Thursday’s Library Board meeting, the community was there for her.

The unfortunate thing is that the board has not responded to their constituents’ requests for a reasoning for its decision. Likewise, no clarification has been made as to this “new direction” they suddenly have called for.

In the absence of a concrete reason, speculation has arisen within the community. Reporter Susan O’Neill’s story this week includes a suggestion from two community leaders that the reason behind the decision was purely personal, and that Hughes suffered from a hostile work environment following her decision to terminate the employment of a board member’s friend in 2010.

Was this a retaliatory firing, or are there reasons that the board feels are legitimate for why they ended the employment of a community leader?

One of the two board members who voted against Hughes’ termination, Bill Durrenberger, said he doesn’t think there was a real reason for the firing.

Given the lack of any statements from the board clarifying their decision or their future direction, nothing is clear, other than the fact that the board’s communication with the public it serves leaves much to be desired.

They are community servants, too, and when the public demands an answer, they should feel obligated to provide one. While it may be true that Beverly Holmes Hughes worked at the pleasure of the Library Board, the board members need to be reminded that they work at the pleasure of the voters of the Sugar Grove Public Library District.

And unless those four board members who voted to terminate Hughes’ employment change their demeanor and provide clear, rational and legitimate reasons for their decisions, we believe the voters should give them a dose of their own medicine come election day.

Letter: Don’t put that trash around my trees

in Letters to the Editor by

Please hear my plea. I’ve recently learned that the village is planning to spread landscaper’s trash (some might call it mulch/wood chips, etc.) around the trees in the parkways. Save taxpayer’s money; this trash is not necessary. Further, the last time this was done, the people doing it did it wrong—they piled it up around the trunks, which promotes spider roots sapping the water from the surface of the ground, depriving the real roots of the necessary water.

I know you want our village to be a Tree City U.S.A. However, there are better ways to spend taxpayer’s money, like the tree pruning being done and planting young trees on Arbor Day.

If you ignore my plea, please don’t put that trash around the trees at my residence.

H. Jack Hansen

Letter: Boy Scout Summer Camp Pt. 2

in Letters to the Editor by

Besides taking Merit badges at Camp Freeland Leslie in Oxford, Wis., the Boy Scouts of Troop 41 did a variety of other things for the week they were at summer camp.

Every night—Monday through Thursday—there was an open swim from 7 to 8 p.m. down at the lakefront. Every day, the boys that were 13 years or older had a chance to do High Adventure. For example, Thursday, the boys had an opportunity to go spelunking. Also, the camp had a climbing wall the Scouts could use. On this wall, there was a contest to see who could climb it the fastest; the prize was a “golden” carabineer.

The boys also had a chance to do a couple of nature walks on paths throughout the camp.
Wednesday night, instead of an evening program, there was an O.A. callout, (O.A. stands for Order of the Arrow). To get in this group, the Scouts needed to have been elected by their fellow Scouts.

On Thursday morning, a couple of boys and leaders went to the lakefront at 6 a.m. to swim a mile. Mile swimmers from Troop 41 were leaders Mr. Hal Wright and Mr. Dave Seraphin; the Scouts were David Barnhart and Mark Wojak.

During Thursday’s evening program there was CPR training for the boys who needed to learn CPR for their Merit Badges. The boys also had the chance to do human foosball.

These are the extra activities the boys did at C.F.L. For information on joining Troop 41, contact Scoutmaster Dave Seraphin at (630) 466-4913.

Mark Wojak
Scribe, Troop 41

Letter: An open letter to Representative Hultgren

in Letters to the Editor by

Bush tax cuts and grocery shopping
I do all the grocery shopping for our household. Several weeks ago, I bought my favorite cranberry juice for $3.25. The next time I went to the store, it was on sale for $2.50. I stocked up, of course. It remained on sale for two weeks. When it went off sale, the price went back up to the $3.25. I don’t consider that a price increase; it just went off sale.

This past Saturday, I wanted to pick up some more juice, and the price was $3.50. Now, that is a price increase. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire (as the Sunset Provision Congress voted for) is not increasing taxes. Maybe Congress should do the grocery shopping for their family for eight weeks so they can see how this on-sale/off-sale price increase works in the real world. Ask anyone who does the family shopping; I’m sure they would be of the same opinion on grocery store pricing.

The Republican stance: Don’t raise taxes on the job creators
The Bush tax cuts have been in place for 10 years. I really don’t see jobs being created, at least not in the United States. Don’t blame government regulations on stifling job growth. The recent examples of the “Big Branch Mine” coal mine disaster, the B.P. oil explosion and spill, and the most recent oil line rupture in Montana is proof enough our regulations and system on fines are not strong enough.

Do we really want to cut food safety programs and trust business to do the right thing? Can an unregulated, free market really be safe for our citizens? The Chinese don’t seem to have much regulation or controls on safety and quality. Remember when they added melamine to dog and cat food to boost the protein assay and many pets died as a result? They did the same thing to baby formula. Is this the level of regulation we are aiming for?

Paying for war
It seems to me that when you have larger expenses (two wars, etc.), you have to bring in more money. If I want to replace my 2005 car with a 2012, I need more revenue, not less; I don’t cut back my hours at work. I might have more energy, more free time and feel better not working quite as much, but I’ll have less money to make car payments with. To compensate for the reduced income, since I cut my hours, do I stop paying my health insurance policy? That would save a bundle of cash right now to pay for the car, but maybe not be so good for my long-term health or financial health, for that matter.

The reasons for the deficit being this high include the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Bush tax cuts and the Prescription Drug Bill—none of which were paid for.

Do I want to pay higher taxes? Not really. Do I think we can afford to keep spending and not try to raise more money? No. Do I think we can cut the deficit by spending cuts alone? Of course not. You can’t cut the social safety net to shreds. Do the Republicans think I’m an idiot? Maybe they do, or maybe they think I have a very short memory.

Two friends of mine live in a rural community. Rob lost his job with a heating and cooling company. Now he works as a short-order cook. His wife, Lynn, is a school bus driver. They each make $10 an hour at their jobs. They have a 10-year-old son, Evan. Can they afford to pay more taxes? No. Can they afford to lose Evan’s state kids healthcare insurance? They would be able to get by, yes, but it might not be so good for Evan’s health, short term or long term.

Recently, Sen. Sessions said that having millionaires pay higher taxes to save the economy was “rather pathetic.” Sen. Hatch suggested that the poor do their fair share. Really? Where would Rob and Lynn find the money? Why don’t you ask those who have done so well these last 10 years to pay a bit more? Charge the regular price for juice, not sale price for perpetuity.

I am truly disgusted with what I see in Washington. The greed and hypocrisy is beyond anything I could have dreamed of. Congressmen standing on the floor in the House of Representatives, railing against the stimulus package, voting against it, but then showing up at ribbon cutting ceremonies in their districts, praising the jobs that were created by the stimulus.

In Washington, the focus is nothing more than getting and retaining power. Congress is looking out for the interests of those contributors who fund their campaigns. You don’t really seem to care about the rest of us. It is my family who help pay your government salary, pension and healthcare insurance. Our checks to your campaign coffers just aren’t big enough to justify any attention to what we need. In the last election cycle, the Republicans ran on “creating jobs.” There have been no job bills. Most of the bills that were passed were focused on social issues. I don’t see a job bill or any new jobs that the 112th Congress has created.

Raising the retirement age and Medicare age eligibility
Raising the retirement age for general office workers might be okay, but what about people who work at hard labor jobs, construction, waitressing, nursing, etc. Your body wears out—doesn’t Congress understand that? Are they so insulated from life that they don’t know that people do hard, physical labor or are on their feet all day? To secure the financial health of social security, lift the cap and stop raiding the trust fund. That seems to be a no-brainer for me.

Raising the Medicare eligibility age is just going to hurt more people. So many people in their 50s have been laid off. In this economy, who is going to hire an older worker? They require higher salaries, and their health insurance costs are higher. Most employers hire cheaper, younger people or go out of the country, where labor is cheaper.

I have many friends who are self-employed, unemployed or underemployed, and are trying very hard to stay healthy and praying they don’t get sick. They are counting the days until Medicare kicks in because they can’t buy health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or they just can’t afford it. There are ways to fix Medicare without hurting seniors. How about negotiating for lower drug prices, for instance? Oh, I forgot, it’s the pharmaceutical companies that write the big checks to election campaigns.

Carol Green

Guest Editorial: Shame on Sugar Grove Library Board

in From the Editor's Desk by

by Douglas Hartman
Past President, Sugar Grove Library Board of Trustees

Sugar Grove is a less-friendly, sadder place today. In a display of callousness more representative of a Mid-East autocracy than a Midwest community, the Sugar Grove Library Board summarily and without comment fired the Library Director, Beverly Holmes Hughes, on July 14.

Who is Beverly and what severe crisis justified the board action? Beverly was the Library Director for 20 years and placed the library squarely in the center of community service. She was the Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year in 2010, helped organize and served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce for a decade, served the League of Women Voters, the community Corn Boil, the Boy Scouts, the Senior Center. By any measure, Beverly certainly was one of Sugar Grove’s most valuable assets.

The board showed its appreciation for this distinguished public servant by offering her humiliation instead of justification. Certainly she had committed some heinous act for elected officials to act so draconian and immediately. The board ignored their responsibility to those they serve by refusing to state a reason. However, as the vote was 4-2, obviously whatever reasoning they used behind closed doors was not of such an obvious, egregious or urgent nature as to compel the full board to agree.

And what justifications have been offered? Only that the board wants “to move in a new direction.” What direction would that be? Further toward their own unaccountability? Further toward using their elected positions to fulfill personal vendettas? Further toward degrading a public resource?

It is almost comical that the one board member who offered any comment stated, “We haven’t defined ‘new direction’ for ourselves, so I can’t define it for you.” So, this new direction was so urgent and compelling it required this knife in the heart, but was not so obvious it can even be defined? This is a sad example of the board’s attitude toward their responsibilities and a revealing indictment of their motivation. The board certainly cannot lead when they do not know where they are going.

The “wrong direction” Beverly took the library for two decades was what, exactly? Oh yes, an impressive new library building that likely would not have been accomplished without her. A thriving library offering well-received programs for everyone; making the library a vital and integral part of community activitie; creating a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff.

In June 2010, I detailed board financial mis-steps, meddling in library operations beyond their experience and personal agendas of board members—and warned that their priorities appeared self-serving rather than being in the public interest. I have never wished more that I had been incorrect.

The four board members—Art Morrical, Joan Roth, Julie Wilson and Bob Bergman—should resign in shame. But it appears they have none, nor any sense of honor, appreciation or responsibility. As a former trustee, I am ashamed on their behalf.

After decades of exemplary service, what illegal act or gross job deficiency warranted putting someone, to whom we owe so much, on the street in these economic times?

The board meets Thursday, July 28, at the library. There is opportunity for public comment. Although the board has demonstrated it is not receptive to the opinions of those they serve, I encourage the community to make their feelings known.

Letter: Chamber looks back on Hughes’ contributions to community

in Letters to the Editor by

The Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce & Industry was saddened to learn of the dismissal of Sugar Grove Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes on July 14.

Beverly, as an elected member of the Sugar Grove Chamber Board of Directors, was instrumental in organizing the chamber in 1991, and through her professional leadership and guidance, helped grow the chamber over the past 20 years.

Her vision and commitment to the community helped identify and develop the mission of the chamber, a belief in a strong, active organization that works to bring business and residents together for the enrichment of the entire community.

Beverly has been a tremendous asset to the chamber and the community, volunteering countless hours to make Sugar Grove a wonderful place to live and do business.

The Sugar Grove Chamber extends heartfelt thanks to Beverly for all she has done and wishes her nothing but success in her future endeavors.

Shari Baum
Executive Director, Sugar Grove Chamber
of Commerce & Industry

Letter: Recognizing the work of Beverly Holmes Hughes

in Letters to the Editor by

The Sugar Grove Library District and the village of Sugar Grove have enjoyed 22 years of encouragement, support and volunteerism from Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes. Beverly is recognized as a community partner and leader. Modest, unassuming and eminently practical, she embodies the characteristics of a good librarian, colleague and friend. Her sense of humor and unique perspective gave others a different way of viewing the world.

The Sugar Grove Library District has lost a great friend of literature, reading, history, culture and the arts … and many of us as individuals could simply say we are losing a great friend.

This unattributed quote sums up our loss: “For those who know her, no words are necessary. For those who do not know her, words will not suffice.”

There is a Sugar Grove Library Board Meeting on Thursday, July 28, at 7 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Library, 125 Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove. I encourage all Library District residents to attend this meeting.

Patricia Graceffa
Sugar Grove

Letter: Frequently asked questions about Rob Roy Drainage Districts

in Letters to the Editor by

The district sent a mailing to all property parcel owners regarding the requests for maintenance to the courts for August 2011.

The district has asked for a flat rate of $10 per residential parcel for its annual maintenance assessment, as well as $5.14 per acre on agricultural lands, an amount that has not changed since 1979, when the assessment was set at approximately $1 per acre.

In 2009 and 2010, properties were assessed at 3.87 cents per property pin number.

From 1980 to 2009, there were zero assessments being made to keep this district operational.

The situation changed in 2008 when events not in control of the district occurred that required our attention.

Additionally, through the efforts of Kane County, the district has been able to participate in a larger county bond issue for us to borrow money from the bond, guaranteed by the farm properties in the agricultural lands annual repayment assessment of $6.73 per acre over 20 years to effect repairs to the district’s tile system, which has been in place since 1906.

There will be zero dollars assessed to the residential property owners for the bond repayment program.

Questions can be directed to the district office, at Rob Roy Drainage District II, P.O. Box 465, Sugar Grove, 60554.

Thank you.
Mike Fagel,
Scott Jesseman,
Brad Sauer
Rob Roy Drainage District

Editorial: Thank you for allowing me to serve

in From the Editor's Desk by

Deborah Seyller
Kane County Circuit Clerk

How can one give up that which they love? When the call of another dream is stronger.

Twenty-two years ago, I landed in the Circuit Clerk’s Office. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a management position with the deliberate intention of not staying in government. But what I discovered was that I enjoyed public service. My growing passion to serve and to make a difference led me to run for Circuit Clerk. That ultimate commitment became my overriding desire.

Throughout my tenure as Circuit Clerk, I challenged traditional thinking. I pushed for positive change. I spearheaded innovation and advances through technology, and I learned much.

As I reflect on my journey, my initial goals, the achievements, my aspirations, and the pending decision to run for office again, my desire to seek a new challenge and adventure is simply too strong to ignore. I have decided not to seek re-election.

Over the last 15 years, I worked to establish the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s Office as an acknowledged leader in technology solutions and the efficiencies that are gained. To that end, I am proud of the combined six awards that my office and I have received in recognition of leadership in government and proactive advances leveraging technology and innovation to improve services and increase productivity. This achievement is unparalleled in government.

My primary goals were to achieve significant improvements aimed to benefit our customers, our judicial system partners, and to automate functions within the Circuit Clerk’s Office. We have introduced many technology firsts with electronics in the court rooms and the judicial system. And this summer, we are introducing a new suite of valuable eServices aimed at improving external customer services, removing delays, reducing data entry, improving quality, reducing costs, and increasing efficiencies. This will represent another innovation first in Illinois.

With the technology plan in place and progressing, there just isn’t a compelling challenge remaining. I have diligently given my best effort and commitment to public service. It has been awesome being your Circuit Clerk, but I am looking forward to discovering my next adventure.

That of which I am most proud of and value are the people with whom I work. They are brilliant, creative partners. They are people who are dedicated to providing exceptional customer service under any conditions. They have my gratitude for their loyalty, professionalism, and hard work. I thank my co-workers throughout the county and state for an exceptional work experience. I thank you for the opportunity to be your Circuit Clerk.

Letter: Donation helps protect local residents

in Letters to the Editor by

The family of Frank Berkes has generously donated a heart defibrillator to the village of Maple Park. This new piece of equipment will be located in the hallway of the Maple Park Civic Center by the gymnasium and baseball fields.

Defibrillators help restore the natural rhythm of the heart when a person is experiencing dangerous arrhythmia or cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association recommends that all places which house large numbers of people have defibrillators on hand. For this reason, a portable defibrillator is a key piece of equipment in any emergency response kit.

Thanks to the generosity of the Berkes family, the village of Maple Park now owns a deliberator.

In Respectful Memory of Frank Jacob Berkes: May 21, 1956 – May 8, 2011.

Kathy Curtis
Maple Park Village President

Letter: Boy Scout Summer Camp Freeland 2011 Part 1

in Letters to the Editor by

On Sunday, July 3, Troop 41 left Sugar Grove for Camp Freeland and stopped just outside Madison, Wis., to eat lunch. When they arrived at C.F.L., they were given a tour of the camp and shown their campsites. Those that hadn’t completed their swim check before camp went to the lake. Then everyone had a wonderful dinner.

On Monday, July 4, the Scouts woke up to a delicious breakfast. Afterwards, they went to different parts of the camp to work on Merit badges they had previously signed up for. After a long hot day, the Scouts cooked up a wonderful dinner. Then if they wanted, the Scouts went to the “trading post” to buy food and merchandise.

Mark Wojak, Scribe, Troop 41
Scoutmaster Dave Seraphin

Letter: Thanks Paisano’s, for the donation to the fire department

in Letters to the Editor by

The Kaneville Fire Department would like to thank Paisano’s Pizza & Grill for the very generous donation from their sales on July 4. The funds raised will assist our public education and awareness programs. We appreciate Dick and Annette Theobald’s efforts in giving back to the community and choosing our volunteer fire department for their 2011 fundraiser.

Cathy Kovach
Administrative Assistant
Kaneville Fire Department

Letter: Thanks for making vacation Bible school a success

in Letters to the Editor by

Last week marked the end of our annual Vacation Bible School at Elburn Community Congregational Church.

Director of Christian Education Theresa Biddle organized and produced a delightful weeklong adventure at the Shake It Up Cafe for children in the community. Youth Group Leader Jessie VanDevelde got kids excited with fun songs and dances, while Games Leader Karen Diesel kept them active and busy even in the sweltering heat. Char Hiebert and Regina Kurth replenished the children’s energy with healthy snacks. Pastor Michelle Prentice-Leslie took the children on a journey through the history of God’s people during Bible Story, and Craft Leader Barb Holloman showed kids that it’s OK to get a little messy while learning about God.

VBS this year would not have been possible without help from many community members, but especially the kids. Everyone involved enjoyed the week and cannot wait for next year.

Barb Holloman
Community Congregational Church

Editorial: How to make all rules meaningless

in From the Editor's Desk by

If a government body chooses which rules and laws to enforce, that in effect makes all rules and laws meaningless. Selective enforcement means that any group of representatives can pick and choose what the laws are at their whim, and the public will never know for certain what is and is not allowed.

Thankfully, a suggestion made by Elburn Village Administrator Erin Willrett at Monday’s special Village Board meeting to do just that was ignored by those in attendance, including the members of the Village Board.

While her suggestion may “only” have pertained to a liquor license ruling, and while it may “only” be in a small town dealing with a situation that would only occur one time, the fact that a village administrator would suggest to selectively enforce an ordinance prior to it being passed should be distressing to the residents in Elburn.

The issue dealt with liquor licenses and how they apply to establishments that allow for sales and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages outside. One tavern in town, Schmidt’s Towne Pub, wanted to add an outdoor beer garden with outdoor alcohol sales, and the Village Board’s concern was how a new type of liquor license to govern that would impact another tavern, Knuckleheads, which already allows outdoor consumption.

Ultimately, the solution was simple; eliminate the word “consumption” from the new license, and Schmidt’s can have its outdoor beer garden and Knuckleheads can continue to operate as it has done for years.

Yet, during that discussion and before the solution was reached, Willrett suggested that the board could pass an ordinance that would, as written, prohibit Knuckleheads from allowing its patrons to consume their drinks in the outdoor area unless it added fencing and met other requirements. However, her suggestion was also for the board to simply ignore the full enforcement of the ordinance.

“There is always the option for the village to not enforce an ordinance,” she said to the board.

Thankfully, her suggestion was met with silence, and the conversation moved on to relevant matters—meaning, they discussed how they could adjust the wording to allow for both businesses to operate within the scope of local laws and regulations.

It was a brief moment dealing with a relatively minor adjustment to a small town’s liquor laws. In the bigger picture and on the surface, it is not a big deal.

Yet, the reason why we are concerned enough to use this space to write about it, is that a village administrator should never suggest to a board that a viable option is to pass a new ordinance with the intention of selectively enforcing it.

The village administrator is a highly paid position, and the person holding that title should be considered a “go-to” person, providing expertise and insight during Village Board discussions, and offering valuable advice to help the board arrive at decisions.

Thankfully, in this case, the board ignored that advice, because if the board had pursued the suggestion to selectively enforce the ordinance, they would have set a precedent making all village ordinances meaningless.

Letter: Transparency measure is ripe for abuse

in Letters to the Editor by

The lowest qualified bid by the most competent contestant traditionally wins the government contract. Unfortunately, the “Change” gang now wants to fiddle with this decades-old, generally reliable formula.

President Obama hopes to throw another item onto the scale as bureaucrats weigh bids: political donations. He could sign an executive order any day now that would instruct federal officials to consider the political contributions of prospective government contractors. While this move is being portrayed as a matter of increased transparency, it will actually fuel unintended consequences and indirectly overturn an important Supreme Court decision on free speech.

Forcing companies to disclose political gifts supposedly will expose covert “pay-to-play” schemes and ensure that private industry does not unduly influence Washington’s decisions when awarding lucrative contracts. Rather than depoliticize procurement, this practice would empower public officials to scrutinize a particular company’s political philanthropy. The Obama administration’s supporters could score government deals while opponents leave with empty pockets and a simple message: “If you want our checks, show us yours.”

The executive order could transport such old-fashioned, Chicago-style wheeling and dealing from Lake Michigan to the Potomac.

This executive order—drafted in April—requires contractors to disclose annual donations of more than $5,000 that were made in the past two years and paid to political candidates, parties or independent political groups. Directors, officers and other top managers would have to declare their personal political contributions from the past two years— even if they were made without their employers’ knowledge or consent.

This order is in part designed to thwart last year’s Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, which lifted certain restrictions on the donations corporations and labor unions can make to campaigns and independent organizations.

Congressional Democrats quickly tried to counteract that ruling by re-limiting the third-party donations. But a House-approved bill sputtered in the Senate.

Since the legislation will not be passed, Obama is trying to accomplish that same goal through the executive order. A clothing company would have to reveal its donations to a conservative advocacy nonprofit before bidding to manufacture military uniforms. A landscaping firm would have to list its checks to a liberal third- party group before applying to maintain a national park.

Clearly, such rules could foster political discrimination. Obama would enable his administration to deliver literally billions of dollars in government contracts to pro-Democrat businesses while denying billions to pro-Republican firms.

And when the GOP takes the White House again, that administration could turn around and practice the exact same kind of discrimination against Democrat-friendly contractors.

And the favoritism would not necessarily be confined to contracting work. The entire federal government would be made aware of private firms’ political affiliations. Other agencies could use that information to determine where and how to award billions of dollars.

Even the appearance of political favoritism would be a problem.

The Agriculture Department, for example, might hire a company to upgrade 30 regional offices. That firm may have backed Obama’s campaign and other Democratic causes. It also could finish its work on time, under budget, and with elegant results. Nonetheless, a losing, pro-Republican bidder might cry foul—even though it lost to a truly superior bidder, picked by honest public servants with no partisan axes to grind.

When awarding contracts, federal decision-makers should consider only one issue: the bidders’ merits. Officials should evaluate the price and quality of the products and services on offer, the supplier’s performance under previous contracts and how closely each bid follows federal contract rules.

This proposal is generating bipartisan opposition. Connecticut’s independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats, and Missouri’s Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who chairs the Government Contracting Subcommittee, have both publicly opposed the executive order. Twenty-seven Republicans senators signed a letter urging the president to scrap this plan.

Imposing campaign-disclosure requirements on government contractors sets the table for a feast of patronage based not on the content of each contractor’s character, but on the color of his PAC money.

Thomas A. Schatz
Citizens Against Government Waste

Letter: Pride of the Fox thanks the public

in Letters to the Editor by

On behalf of Pride of the Fox, Inc.—and the event committee specifically—we would like to thank everyone who helped make this year’s 29th Annual Pride of the Fox RiverFest such a rousing success. Notable among those responsible were:
• The 72 sponsors and businesses that made a commitment to our community and made this event possible
• The 100-plus dedicated volunteers who donated thousands of hours to ensure RiverFest occurs for everyone. They are truly incredible people
• The city of St. Charles—the aldermen, Mayor Don DeWitte and City Administrator Brian Townsend—for their continuing support of the festival
• Comcast and their marketing team for teaming up with RiverFest—at the carnival, the sand sculpture and “RiverFest Documentary” that will soon be featured on the local section of “On Demand”
• Erik Mahan, commander of traffic and special events, Chief of Police James Lamkin and the entire St Charles Police and Fire Departments for their help, advice and support
• David Wagner, Chief Deputy at Kane County Sheriff’s Department, and the entire Kane County Swat Team, who performed an incredible demonstration at this year’s festival
• The staff of the St. Charles Park District for the continued support
• The public works, zoning, electric cnd Community Restitution departments for the hard work and support of the event
• The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5036 and the Fox Valley Troop support groups for supporting the “Salute our Troops” venue and the Letters to the Troops Booth. We had over 80 letters written to the soldiers overseas by our attendees
• And certainly, the thousands of residents who turned out to experience the festival in St. Charles

Without the support and participation of everyone mentioned above, Pride of the Fox RiverFest would not be the memorable, annual event that it has become.

Thank you again to everyone involved, and mark your calendars for June 8-10, 2012, for our 30th Birthday Bash. We hope to see you there.

Julie Farris, Jon Olson
Executive Director
Board Chairman

Letter: Field of Dreams rescues 21-year-old horse

in Letters to the Editor by

Willie, a sweet and handsome 21-year-old thoroughbred gelding, was recently rescued by Field of Dreams (FOD), a horse rescue and adoption organization in Batavia.

Willie was found severely emaciated with a dull, patchy hair coat and no recent veterinary care. He had been neglected and was in great need of a safe haven.

Syd Marcus, a strong supporter and volunteer at FOD, was an instrumental part in finding Willie and taking the initiative to rescue him. She contacted FOD out of great concern for Willie’s well-being, and has worked closely with FOD for over a month taking the proper steps to save him.

Marcus has also offered financial support in this effort, as well as for other horses that have been rescued by FOD.

Willie arrived safe and sound at the Field of Dreams barn on May 12, and has been adjusting well. Since arriving at FOD, he has been vaccinated, dewormed and his diet is being carefully regulated to allow him to gain weight safely.

He is very gentle and loving to all the volunteers that work so hard to care for him and his stable mates. Once Willie is rehabilitated, he will be looking for his forever home.

Updates on Willie’s progress can be viewed on the new Field of Dreams website, when it is activated in the next few weeks at www.fodhra.org.

If you would like to help contribute to Willie’s care, or to other horses in our rescue, please contact us at fodhra1@yahoo.com. We have beautiful, loving horses that are currently looking for a devoted family they can call their own. The best way to get in touch with us would be to send us an e-mail.

Field of Dreams provides a safe haven for abused and neglected horses, as well as horses coming from loving homes whose owners can no longer care for them. We promote volunteering before anyone adds an equine companion to their home so people can see what the true responsibilities of horse ownership are all about.

Animals are not supposed to be a throw-away commodity—they are a family member and should be respected as such.

Laurie Marsiglio
Field of Dreams

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