Board Credit Card Investigation Update, Disclosure Policies, Early voting/vote by mail, Fall festivals, and More

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October 10, 2018

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Dear Neighbors, 

Board Credit Card Abuse Investigation 

Several weeks ago, I wrote to inform you of news that the County Board Chairman was taking a leave of absence and investigations into inappropriate use of County credit cards (aka p-cards) were ongoing.  In response to those discoveries, I proposed a detailed action plan to the entire County Board and engaged in multiple meetings with the acting Board Chair and other members.  I am happy to report that some of my suggestions were acted upon. 

  1. The board agreed with my request to have an outside entity conduct an immediate review of credit card policies and usage by County Board members (I don't have one).  The Bronner Group consulting has completed their review, and concluded that Lake County's oversight of p-card use by elected officials was generally weak and our policies must be strengthened. The acting chair even commented that she believes the p-cards continue to be used inappropriately by some board members.  A copy of The Bronner Group presentation is available to read here.  (The crux of the issue is that individual board member expenses are approved by the Chairman, the only official reviewing the Chairman's expenses is the County administrator. This dynamic is not ideal.  If we continue to allow officials to use p-cards, there will be a different approval structure going forward.) 
  2. We did get clarification from the States Attorney about the legal investigation.  The Illinois State Police have taken over the investigation into the Chairman's p-card spending and related issues, no timeline for a conclusion has been provided and no other information has been shared with us.  The Chairman remains on a leave of absence.  
  3. I requested that the Board should immediately make available to the public detailed information about all elected officials p-card spending.  Some Board members contend that credit cards are necessary for board member related expenses, such as travel to conferences.  Many board members agree that we should eliminate them for elected officials.  In response to calls for greater transparency, some elected officials have published copies of their receipts, others have been published by news organizations. Full county publication of all credit card spending has not yet happened.  It is clear that additional conversations are ongoing about how to reform the related policies. 

Vendor Disclosure Policy Review 

Lake County currently does not require that bidders, vendors and contractors fully disclose any family relationships that may exist with County Board members, elected officials or County staff.  While no wrongdoing has been implied, there are existing relationships between County staff and County contractors that many Board members including myself were unaware of while we voted on some of those contracts.

While examining ways to implement a new policy, we learned that other Chicago-area Counties and The State of Illinois do require vendors to disclose such relationships.  A new vendor disclosure form and related policies have been under consideration by the Board, but still have not yet been approved.  I hope to also include in the new disclosure statements a requirement that vendors also disclose campaign contributions made by bidders and vendors to any county elected official.  As with the p-card issue, more transparency and more relevant disclosures will serve the county well.  

Thanks for taking time to read these updates.  As you can see, the Board has been quite busy these past two months in an effort to get clarity on these issues and implement policies that will improve County government transparency and accountability.  As always, email me or call me to share your thoughts.

November 6, 2018 Election News

November 2018 election

Early Voting
In-person early voting for the Nov. 6 Election is now available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 19 at the Lake County Clerk’s Office, 18 N. County St., Waukegan.

Beginning Oct. 22 through Nov. 5, early voting will be available at 16 early voting sites throughout the county including at the Highland Park Police Department and at the West Deerfield Township Office on Deerfield Road. Use any early voting site regardless of where you live. Some sites offer evening and weekend hours. Find an early voting site near you.

Vote by Mail
Registered voters wishing to vote by mail must submit a completed electronic application or paper application to the Clerk’s office by noon Nov. 1. Voted ballots must be returned to the Clerk’s office bearing a postmark no later than midnight on Nov. 6. Complete your vote by mail application.

More Information
Visit and click on the “November 2018 Election” icon to find voter registration information, preview your ballot, and details on how to vote by mail, early, or on Election Day. 


Lake County Stormwater Management Commission to Review Proposed Foxconn Development

The Lake County Stormwater Management Commission has entered into a contract with Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. to review the proposed Foxconn development and related adjacent improvements due to concerns of adverse impacts on flooding and water quality along the Des Plaines River in Lake County. The Foxconn site is in the headwaters of the Des Plaines River Watershed, which is immediately upstream of Lake County and encompasses a major source of surface water. Learn more

Proposed 2019 Budget Keeps $3.4 Million in Taxpayers’ Pockets

The proposed Lake County 2019 budget is balanced and the operating budget reflects a slight decrease from last year. The Lake County Board will hold budget hearings on the proposed budget later this month and will vote on it at its November meeting. In an effort to provide some relief to taxpayers, the County Board directed that the budget be developed keeping the County’s property tax levy flat (or not taking the allowable levy growth based on the Consumer Price Index). The only increase in property tax revenue will come from growth on new property. (Lake County’s portion of our property tax bill is about 7%). The proposed FY19 operating budget — which funds the County’s day-to-day operations — is $3.3 million less than last year (or 1%).  The budget can be viewed at

County to Strengthen P-Card Program Policies

As I mentioned at the top of this newsletter, following an analysis of Lake County’s P-card program, an independent firm recommended Lake County update its policy, processes and procedures. Lake County has approximately 260 County-issued P-Cards used by employees, some board members and elected officials for County business related expenses. The firm analyzed a sample of Lake County P-card transactions representing 52% of total spending for 12 months and reviewed best practices from across the country. The study’s findings show there are gaps that can be improved with stronger internal controls. Recommendations to be immediately implemented include: updating current practices and refining procedures to better document approvals and handle exceptions (including personal charges and late submissions); implementing regular departmental reviews of active cards and credit limits, as well as additional training.  The Board is also likely to consider policy changes and updates to its rules that govern board members’ P-card use and consider measures to improve transparency, including posting P-card transactions to the County website.

Government Procurement Spotlight: Professional Services

In local government, much of what we do and how we do it is dictated by State and sometimes Federal laws. For example, Lake County government purchases a variety of goods and services and there are different ways to procure those services depending on what it is.  For example, when hiring architects, engineers and land surveyors, Lake County (and local governments) are required to use the Professional Services Selection process and award these contracts through a “Qualifications Based Selection.” This allows the County to evaluate a firm based on experience and expertise relative to the project, and cost is negotiated after the most highly rated firm is selected. 

How does it work? When professional services are needed, the department develops the project scope and then publicly advertises the request for services. Interested firms submit a Statement of Interest (SOI) and Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) and a selection committee –made up of professionals from the department—evaluate the proposals and select a minimum of three firms to participate in an interview/presentation. They rank the firms based on several criteria, including their expertise and past related experience.   The County then begins negotiating the number of hours it will take to complete the scope of services. The final contract is then presented to the Lake County Board for approval.   

Following this process is required by State and Federal law; it provides value to the County and helps us deliver cost-effective, efficient services to our residents because our Lake County team of professionals has selected the most qualified firm to perform the work, and these firms are then qualified to do similar work in the future, based on their past successful performance.  Learn More: Qualifications Based Selection FAQ’s

Celebrate Fall in Lake County

Fall fun

One of the best things about saying farewell to summer is looking forward to fall in Lake County! Enjoy autumn’s glows firsthand while getting spooked, picking out pumpkins or getting lost in a maze of maize. View Visit Lake County’s guide to the top 10 things to do in October.

Public Works Sustainability Improvements

Public Works sustainability improvements

With more than 200 lakes and rivers in the county, it’s important to keep our water safe! Lake County Public Works has been working hard to increase their sustainability efforts to their water operations, from taking phosphorous and nutrients out of wastewater that can be harmful to aquatic life, to performing energy audits performed in coordination with the Illinois EPA. Watch Video

Sign Up to Receive Job News by Text


Lake County Workforce Development is piloting a text-messaging service where you can opt in and receive occasional text messages regarding employment events, paid internships and more. You can opt out at any time. Sign up now!

Sheriff’s Office Pilots New Crisis Outreach and Support Team

Crisis intervention team

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is piloting a new collaborative program with the Lake County Health Department called the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COaST) to support residents with mental or behavioral health illness who interact with law enforcement.

Within approximately three days of a law enforcement officer encountering a mental health interaction or an opioid overdose, the COaST deputy will arrange a meeting with the individual or “cold call” their residence. During that meeting, the deputy will check the well-being of the person and determine if he or she has sought treatment or services since the initial event. The deputy will then provide a “warm handoff” to the Health Department counselor, who will conduct a brief assessment, and if necessary, refer the person to appropriate services. Learn more

Jail Visitor Entrance Relocated

The public entrance of the Lake County Jail has moved from 20 South County Street to the lobby of the Community Based Corrections Center (CBCC) at 15 South Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, Waukegan. The relocation is due to the ongoing renovations at the Lake County Jail.

Inmates being released from custody will be released at the CBCC Lobby. Any visitors coming to the Lake County Jail should also utilize the CBCC Lobby.

Help Give the Gift of Warmth. Donate to Veteran's Coat Drive

Veteran coat drive

Donate your new or gently used adult and children’s coats and outerwear to help area veterans and their families as part of the Lake County Law Enforcement Veteran's Coat Drive. The collection is running now through Nov. 7. Find a collection site near you.

Diabetes in Lake County

Diabetes in Lake County

Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body uses blood sugar or glucose and is the sixth leading cause of death in Lake County. The good news is diabetes is preventable and can be controlled. Watch this video to learn about a new resource created by Live Well Lake County to teach you more about diabetes prevention and management.

New Food Safety Guidelines To Be Implemented Jan. 1

Starting January 1, 2019, the Lake County Health Department will implement the new Illinois Food Code, based on the 2013 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) model. The new code contains the most up-to-date food safety guidelines based on science and research. It increases the responsibility of food permit holders, ensures faster reporting of foodborne illness risk factors, and strengthens food production and documentation requirements of certain foods. The new state inspection form will replace the current Lake County Health Department pass/fail system with a new re-inspection standard to assure that foodborne illness risk factors are corrected.

From Farmers Market to Dinner Table

Farmers market to dinner table

With so many farmers markets across Lake County, our residents have many options for picking up fresh produce, packed with nutrition and flavor. Watch this video as Chef LaiSha Ponder from the Lake County Health Department shares how you can bring that market freshness to your table with two easy, mouthwatering dishes, a summer ribbon salad and a sautéed vegetable mélange. Go to your local farmer’s market using our Farmers Market Finder and give these recipes a try!

Recycle Your Shoes at New County Locations

shoe recycling

As you discover a growing pile of shoes that no longer fit, don’t throw them away! Keep them out of the landfills and recycle it all instead. As part of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County's Reuse-A-Shoe program, new locations have opened to bring your new and gently used shoes including drop-off bins in Deerfield, Gages Lake, Port Barrington and Vernon Hills.

Learn more about the Reuse-A-Shoe program, including all locations and what items are accepted. And, make sure to learn about all of SWALCO’s recycling programs, including clothing and textiles, household electronics and household chemical waste.

Meet Simba


Simba, the newest member of the Lake County Public Defender’s Office, is the first certified facility dog ever assigned to an American Public Defender’s Office! A 2-year-old Labrador Retriever, Simba will provide comfort, compassion and companionship to children involved in abuse, neglect and dependency cases. Learn more

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Forest Preserve News

Untermyer forum

2018 Ethel Untermyer Conservation Forum: Preserving Lake County
Lake County has a rich history of preservation. Join Dunn Museum curator Diana Dretske on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. as we step back in time to meet the individuals whose efforts preserved the county’s historical and natural heritage. Such as Robert Vogel, pictured here in 1957 with the Museum’s 420 million-year-old fossil. Learn more »

Halloween Hikes

Halloween Hikes
Join a guided group hike along a candlelit path at Ryerson Woods Welcome Center on Oct. 19 and 20 to watch fun nature-themed skits, followed by donuts and cider. The hikes are not scary. Even your littlest will enjoy this family favorite. Hikes begin every 30 minutes from 6 to 8 p.m. Total event time is 90 minutes. Total distance walked is about 1.5 miles. Learn more »

Dunn Museum

Free Senior Museum Admission
Senior admission to the Dunn Museum in Libertyville is free for the entire month of October. Daily admission for seniors (62 and up) is just $3 all other months and $1.50 on Discount Tuesdays. Plan your visit.

LCFPD teacher open house

Teacher Open House
Lake County educators, learn about exciting programs and resources for your class, tour the exhibitions and take part in guided teacher training sessions with our education staff on Oct. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Dunn Museum in Libertyville. Professional development credits will be available.  Learn more

Welcome REI
Our county’s first REI store has opened in Vernon Hills. The retail and outdoor recreation services company has already forged a partnership with the Lake County Forest Preserves. In addition to offering recreation programs in various preserves, we are delighted to thank REI for its recent $20,000 grant to support two public access projects. With these funds, and the help of Youth Conservation Corps crews this summer, we extended an existing boardwalk at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods and stabilized the Des Plaines River shoreline with native wetland plants at the Wright Woods Canoe Launch at IL Route 60 in Vernon Hills. 

Hawk turns 30

Forest Preserve Education Hawk Turns 30
With a badly injured right wing, the future was uncertain for a 4-month-old red-tailed hawk found near Highland Park in the summer of 1988. The hawk was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility, but after healing, it could only glide short distances. It was unable to gain enough lift to soar and hunt, and as a raptor both skills are necessary for survival in the wild. We knew the hawk could touch many lives as an ambassador for Lake County birds of prey, so we built a home for it at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods where it became an honorary Environmental Educator. Throughout her long life, the hawk has served as an educational assistant to our staff during school programs, summer camps and special events.  Learn more

LCFPD movement

Let’s Start a Movement
The spread of invasive species is recognized as one of the major factors contributing to ecosystem change and instability in our county, region and nation. These species have the ability to displace or eliminate native species, alter fire regimes, damage infrastructure and threaten human livelihoods. Invasive species are changing the iconic landscapes of our nation. To effectively control invasive species, removal needs to extend beyond the borders of natural areas. The invasive species European buckthorn is currently the most common tree in Lake County, making up more than 40 percent of our canopy, according to a 2010 tree census conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and The Morton Arboretum. It will continue to be an issue until the community is involved: from private landowners to homeowner associations, golf courses to garden clubs, businesses to school districts.

Want to join the movement? We invite all Lake County residents to help eradicate buckthorn. Several homeowners have already volunteered to help. Whether they have removed buckthorn from their yard or are simply considering it, every resident who participates will benefit the community. In the coming months we will distribute resources to help assess your yard, plus tips to remove buckthorn, landscape with native plants, and get further involved with this effort toward an even more beautiful, healthy Lake County. Join the movement.

Stewardship challenge grant

Quadruple Your Gift to Help Restore Grassy Lake 
Thanks to a Community Stewardship Challenge Grant from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, every dollar raised to restore Grassy Lake in Lake Barrington will be matched with $3, giving your $100 gift a $400 impact! This grant will supply volunteers with native woodland seeds and wetland plants to replace the buckthorn thickets and other invasive species that have been degrading this site for decades.

We have until October 2019 to hit our $7,000 fundraising goal and reach 400 hours of volunteer service at Grassy Lake.  Help us get there!

Lyons Woods

Trail Extension at Lyons Woods
A newly completed 1.9-mile paved trail now connects Lyons Woods Forest Preserve in Waukegan to the Robert McClory Bike Path and local parks. The Lake County Forest Preserves, City of Waukegan, Waukegan Park District and the Village of Beach Park partnered to create this trail extension. It represents the first phase of a longer 6.9-mile regional trail that will continue west through Waukegan Savanna Forest Preserve and eventually connect to the Des Plaines River Trail at Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve in Wadsworth. Visit Lyons Woods today.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at or visit my Facebook page

I encourage you to forward this update to others who may be interested in Lake County news. Residents who wish to automatically receive my bi-weekly newsletter can email me, or click the “Sign up for my mailing list here” button at the top of the newsletter.

Thank you,
Paul Frank 

Mr. Frank, County Board member and Forest Preserve Commissioner, serves on:

Lake County Board, 11th District:
Lake County Law and Judicial Committee
Lake County Health and Community Services Committee
Lake County Ad Hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Lake County Ad-Hoc Legislative Committee

Lake County Forest Preserves, 11th District: 
Planning Committee
Ethics Committee

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