Forest Preserve candidate endorsements
WINNEBAGO FOREST PRESERVE
FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT
(WCFPD) FOR COMMISSIONER
(Vote for not more than Seven)
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. JASPER “JAY” FERRARO. As he did reply to the daily, he is “Union staff representative for American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31.” I went to grade school with Ferraro, but Jay seems a bit miffed. He wouldn’t talk to me in an elevator at the Public Safety Building lately and did not return our survey.
I did like one idea he presented in our survey: “I would like to see more showers placed in the camping areas and one of our golf courses to have a large banquet facility to bring the large golf outings to our community.”
Of course, a large banquet facility would have to be constructed with union jobs.
My support for several local unions has really eroded lately with the juggernaut attack for the very few jobs provided by the Winnebago County Board Wind Farm Ordinance, which would industrialize our rural and natural areas. The carpenters union assault on YouthBuild Rockford is untold and has threatened that not-for-profit’s financial existence. Thanks. And the continual pressure for more sprawl development rather than infill development is very shortsighted.
Then again, I very much support the teachers’ union, and its efforts for our schools. I think the Morrissey administration’s negotiating style with the police and fire unions has been their own demise. The mayor needs another point man for those efforts; Legal Director Pat Hayes’ “my way or the highway” style defeats the administration.
Unfortunately, you become what you hate. The unions are more and more like the corporations they are trying to protect their membership from; and I truly wish the unions would try to protect the environment and focus on revitalizing the vacant land and building in within municipalities, but I just feel the “Jobs before God” approach is destructive in all ways.
Do not vote for Jay.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. CRAIG A. PETERSON. He seems very committed to golf and management. He has stated he thinks it would be unwise to sell any of the three golf courses. He wants to make them run right, and from his management experience, he might be able to do that. Yet, since he didn’t return our survey?????
– NO. AUDREY L. JOHNSON. Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job of answering our survey. She answered one red-flag question and stated she is a 26-year, self-employed REALTOR currently with Whitehead.” Thank you for your forthrightness, but that disqualifies you, according to the experience I had working on the 2030 Winnebago County Land Resource Management Plan (2030 Plan). From watching Angie Goral and Frank Gambino on the Zoning Committee, I realized many times vocational criteria flavor any decision so completely, objective judgment is impossible. It’s very much the knee-jerk reaction. Just like recent experience with lawyers on the River District Board of Directors, I’ve found too many career professionals act in narrow constraints by mental training they can’t seem to escape.
Also, Johnson is endorsed by the Green Communities Coalition (GCC). A GCC board member, Allen Penticoff, writes this paper’s “Mr. Green Car” column. A champion of the environment, another GCC Board member is Jamie Johannsen, who, also as the director of marketing and community relations, is one of the five directors at the WCFPD. She is an occasional writer for this paper. Johannsen is also on the national board of Operation Migration, which brings their whooping cranes through Winnebago County, which she has facilitated. She and GCC are on the Green Team for the City of Rockford. She is involved with the Four Winds Center for Spiritual Ecology. She is also a member of the Green Team for the Office of the Chairman of Winnebago County. Those in the know will tell you she really does a wonderful job for all of these organizations, but particularly running the GCC. In fact, her boss, WCFPD Executive Director Tom Kalousek, affirms her community involvement and direction of such groups as the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition and her editing of their fine quarterly calendar of events. I have great respect for her, Johannsen never stops.
However, if this election is to take the influence of party politics out of the governance of the WCFPD, the influence of the staff of WCFPD on the new board members must be considered for balanced decision making. I’m an Atwood Award winner (members of the GCC were my nominators) and a long-time advocate for all things green, an environmentalist. However, loading the board with my ilk is no better than loading the board with Republicans, Democrats, hunters, golfers, Realtors, farmers or union folks. We need some regular folks, not aligned with any special interest group on the board. So, do not blindly accept the GCC recommendations, under the green label because associations can lead to the group-think as noted above. Enough of the insiders club everywhere and for everyone!
For the last 10 years, Johnson has been a volunteer for the WCFPD’s Land Advisory Committee, and I hope she continues to offer her considerable expertise in land acquisition to the taxpayers.
– NO TO NEUTRAL. ROGENE A. HAMILTON. While I like her view on taxes and hunting, her former employment at ComEd and her husband’s former employment as a Realtor takes her out. The influence of the power structure should not be on this new board.
– YES. RON SCHNEIDER. I met Ron on Oct. 7, 2009, at a WCFPD board meeting. Since he was the only other person who was not a board or staff member, I introduced myself. When I found out he was going to run for the new board, I was VERY impressed. “Here’s a planner and a detail man,” I said to myself. Then, the board didn’t let me speak. I was going to speak about the board’s complete lack of courage and responsibility in failing to take a position against industrial wind farms being constructed next to forest preserves, and I was going to suggest a few things about new campsites and utilizing the rivers for eco-tourism revenue. To Schneider’s and my amazement, my free speech right was denied because the board was stocked with people who were going to vote for the Wind Farm Ordinance on the county board floor. And Aurand, Hastings and Owens voted exactly that way. It was networked. I’m against networks. I like individuals. Schneider is an individual who really makes sense on just about every issue our survey addresses.
– NO. JUDITH BARNARD. Barnard was so loyal to former Winnebago County Board Chairman Kristine Cohn during the ripping up of the Ditzler family’s land and rights, I’ll never forget it. I was impressed and dismayed. She was a real attacker to anyone who was against Cohn. Since then, I’ve observed her through the 2030 Plan process and the Wind Farm Ordinance debates. She is still an avid administration and Republican loyalist. I observed her influence in a meeting in Chairman Christiansen’s conference room among myself, lawyers from Navitas (wind turbine company), county staff and lawyers, the chairman and her.
She’s the grant writer for the county, a former administrative assistant, former secretary/treasurer for the Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District and former Winnebago County Board member. She is president of the Natural Land Institute’s (NLI) Board of Trustees.
The Executive Director of NLI, Jerry Paulson, was also there; Barnard is his boss. Because I was arguing for the environmentalists on the wind farm issue, Paulson made the remark that I didn’t represent the NLI. I said, of course not, and since that is the case, speak for yourself. What is the NLI’s position on wind farms in the rural areas of Winnebago County? He was looking at Barnard, and she was looking at him. I think he wanted to say he was against them, but too much big money for land acquisition was floating around the room, and his boss had that “don’t you dare” look on her face. That was a conflict of interest.
As long as Barnard is involved in county government, her position with NLI puts NLI at a disadvantage because she has county and Republican political agendas built into her. Although she has tremendous talent and knowledge, I think her recent re-election to the NLI presidency suffers from conflict of interest for the organization’s goals and is a mistake. If she were on the WCFPD new board, that would be a mistake and conflict of interest, too.
She is the epitome of politics, as is Randy Olson, and if we are going to depoliticize our new board, neither one of them belongs on our new board.
Read her survey reply. While she is not quite forthright about her role in political circles, she knows her environmental stuff and is very creative. She just brings too much “politics as usual” baggage, and the new board could not be independent. She’d make a great grant writer and adviser for the new board.
– NO. RANDAL L. OLSON. My Ma used to say Rockford is the biggest little town in the country. Olson knows all the politicians in it, plus each and every one in the county and many beyond. He’s run for sheriff. He’s just resigned the county board to take a job with LEAC, his real passion is flying helicopters, ranching and horses.
He is the consummate political infighter and compromiser. He helped me tremendously with my efforts on the 2030 plan. We have fun insulting one another. I admire him, and I’d like to kick him into the middle of the next election cycle for another office.
He’s been on the WCFPD board before as chairman, and knows the issues and the players inside and out. He’d make a great consultant, too, but he should not be on a supposedly nonpartisan board. Talk about a Republican, Olson’s picture is in the Rascal’s Dictionary next to the word “Republican.” Give him a grin, but not a vote for this race.
– NO. JEFF TILLY. He’s the production manager for the Rockford Register Star. People wanted me to run for this board, and I thought about it, too. But I decided I’m a newspaper guy, and I couldn’t ask my organization to be impartial about my role with the WCFPD because I would be too involved with both. We pay the price for conflicts of interests; and believe me, Mr. Tilly, you don’t want to go there. Do him a favor. Don’t vote for him.
– NO. JUDE TORRE. He’s the chief engineering construction technician for the Rock River Water Reclamation District. Again, when he walks in any door, Mr. Torre will carry the water of his employer with him. He is also endorsed by GCC, so he has that and a professional association with the staff of the WCFPD. Too many associations for the independence that is needed. He’d make a great adviser/consultant for water quality.
– NO to NEUTRAL. MICHAEL P. EICKMAN. He’s one of the best the GCC recommended, and from all of his volunteer work at the Colored Sands Bird Banding Station, of course, he is going to have close association with WCFPD’s staff. However, he’s a business owner of a local meat processing plant. Local hunters bring him their game to process. He knows they are citizens who should have rights in our forest preserves, too! But he excludes firearms and is giving away the permits for deer at $25. In Texas, my sources tell me people pay $10,000 to shoot a white-tailed buck that is a third smaller than most of them around here. I couldn’t believe it, and I was told that a helicopter ride and some very fancy food was involved in that price tag. Heck, we’ve got Randy Olson and LEAC for helicopter rides! Seriously, even at $5,000 a tag, the revenue increase would be substantial for land acquisition.
In any case, Eickman understands local sportsmen and women, and local foods. I would go for him 100 percent if it were not for his willingness to support a tax referendum. He’s a question mark.
– NO. SAMUEL P. STANFA. I really like this man, but he supports taxes and wind farms.
– NO. MARY MCNAMARA BERNSTEN. Besides being endorsed by the GCC, she is a very likable person. She is also the daughter of former Rockford Mayor John McNamara. We’re distant cousins, actually. Our family, her father’s party association and his Rockford Blacktop days aside, I asked her if she would accept donations from Sunil Puri, whom I consider to be the Darth Vader of sprawl in this area. She said, of course, she would accept donations from Puri and didn’t seem to have a problem with that. I do. The network of well-established influence in all sectors of this town is overwhelming at times. As well-intentioned as McNamara is, we do not need more old-time connections on the new forest preserve, supposedly nonpartisan board.
– YES. JIM DUNN. He’s against the referendum. He’s blunt and honest. He’s willing to consider the rights of sportsmen and women. He’s very up-front when he doesn’t know something. I’m not sure about his stance on wind farms, but I think he gets it. He’s wrong on the marketing, but that can be brought around to the revenue stream of eco-tourism. I think he’s just the every man I’ve been looking for on this board. We’ll see. And he lives in Pecatonica. We need non-Rockford residents on the new board.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. RICHARD SNEATH. Too bad. I’m looking for the regular citizen here.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. ROBERT A. (BOB) GRABBERT. Again, too bad. I’m looking for the regular citizen here.
– NO. LENAE WEICHEL. She almost had me, but I just can’t do it. She comes close to rejecting residential and wind farm development near forest preserves, but she has caveats (rather well reasoned, too). Including from my friends, she has had many environmental recommendations, including the GCC, but I just can’t let any special interest group pack the board, and I will not be a lackey to my friends or any cause.
– YES. LEE G. JOHNSON. Even though he is just about everything I’ve written about for reasons not to let the environmentalists pack the board, Mr. Johnson’s depth is beyond alignments. I have tremendous respect for all of his and his wife’s achievements and commitments over the years. We need someone with his technical, historical, and ethical knowledge. I hope you get to meet him; his experience is awesome, and he’s really nice with hidden steel. He’s just what we need.
– NO. DANIEL T. WILLIAMS JR. Here’s a case of over-qualification, if there is such a thing for public office. He is a fellow Atwood Award winner, and he really deserved his. His years of work are more than admirable. But again, he is an attorney, a principal in McGreevey & Williams law firm; and like Mary McNamara Bernsten, he’s just too connected—to everyone. He reminds me of someone else I know. I can only say, “thank you for your service,” but I cannot endorse you in this case.
– NO. JACK R. COOK JR. Sorry, but Cook supports a referendum. Dang, we have the exact same positions against wind farms, and he’s a fan of the Boundary Waters. And again, not only as an attorney, but as a former public office holder and his involvement in the NLI, I cannot support him on this new board.
– NEUTRAL. BRIAN JENKINS LEGGERO. Leggero has been endorsed by this paper for other races, which he lost. He works as a private contractor for The Rock River Times. While this will make him very unhappy, being consistent with the logic of this particular series of endorsements, concerning close personal or professional connections, I am neutral on his candidacy. Read his survey reply. The choice is ultimately with the voter anyway.
– NO. DONALD L. SHRIVER. Unfortunately, again, Shriver is one who supports the referenda, not understanding taxpayers are paid out. I agree with him on hunting and disagree on marketing, and halfway agree on Wind Farms. Again, as an attorney, he’s just too much a part of the system. Having studied environmental law, he would make a great advisor to the new board.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. VARDMAN “BUD” TURNER
– NO. HELEN C. YETTERBERG. Raised on a dairy farm, and a charter member of Northern Illinois Botanical Society, Yetterberg is obviously committed to and loves nature. Strong in character, where others are overqualified, she lacks the necessary grasp on too many essential issues. It is refreshing to see such a concerned citizen run for public office. Thank you.
– YES. MICHAEL A. WHITE. White has tremendous common sense. His financial background is vital to the new board, and he doesn’t support new taxes. He’s a little off on Wind Farms but the rest of his approach is just what we need. For dollar and “sense,” I hope the voters and the new board really listen to this down-to-earth man.
– NO. LOREN J. HAINCHEK. He would ultimately support a referendum, and wind farms. His 10 years on the Roscoe Zoning Board of Appeals worries me because Roscoe has become the northern land of sprawl.
– NO. CRAIG G. CAMPBELL. Both he and his brother are occasional and excellent contributors to this paper. He is an excellent historian having written the histories of Loves Park and the Forest Preserve District itself. Plus he is endorsed by the GCC. He is just too close to the staff of the WCFPD. He would support taxes, but he is right on with smaller wind and solar installations.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. WAYNE MIMS
– NO. MARJORIE VEITCH. Again, a candidate who meets all the good environmental qualities of the GCC, but will raise our taxes. The staff there supports a referendum and the GCC candidates reflect that support. Like Campbell, she is right on about wind, but she would require Environmental Impact Statements when “appropriate.” Those are appropriate for every site. She also waffled on development next to forest preserves.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. GLORIA M. LIND. A big NO! Her postcard mailer is an endorsement by Donny Gasparini and Joe Scandroli! Hello to any kind of construction anywhere.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. RUTH M. GARRETT
– NO. JEFFREY FLEMMING. Darn it again. He also came very close, with many agreeable positions. He’s against taxes. But he was very honest and noted he accepted a check from Robert Stenstrom. What was the final blow against him was his clear-cut support of wind farms.
– NO to NEUTRAL. JAMES (JIM) BENKOVICH. Another close one. He would support new taxes. Impressively, his family farm became the first forest preserve, Hononegah. He is against wind farms on the basis of appearance and efficiency. He likes buffer zones around forest preserves. But he has heavy experience in the pollution control industry and was on the Hononegah School Board for 16 years.
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. CHERYL A. MAGGIO
– NO SURVEY RETURNED. NO. CLINTON COLE
– NO. TOM HAWES. Like Barnard and Olson, Hawes knows politics and is a long-time politico. As Roscoe Township Supervisor, he set aside quite a bit of land for paths and assisted the forest preserve. Citizens should be eternally grateful for his path placement that really killed the northern extension of Perryville Road. Blocking, for a time, so much new development in the area. But, as shown by his position on wind and other zoning, he’ll still play the political game.
If this new board is going to be a success across the board and just not represent the elite, the time for games is over. As you may have noticed, I did not reach seven in the “YES’ category for full endorsement, only four candidates get full endorsement. They are:
– YES. RON SCHNEIDER.
– YES. JIM DUNN.
– YES. LEE G. JOHNSON.
– YES. MICHAEL A. WHITE.
Four candidates also get “NO to NEUTRAL” or “NEUTRAL”. They are:
– NO to NEUTRAL. ROGENE A. HAMILTON.
– NO to NEUTRAL. MICHAEL P. EICKMAN.
– NO to NEUTRAL. JAMES (JIM) BENKOVICH.
– NEUTRAL. BRIAN JENKINS LEGGERO.
With 35 candidates and many phone calls as to their background, I was merciless with my standards because “mercy” is reserved for heaven, and we need some real “justice” to be presented by this board for the future of our land and what we leave to future generations.
The “just us” syndrome of any special interest group is unseemly for this new board if democracy is truly to be served.
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