Misinformation & the Facts
Our community has been bombarded with information and misinformation about candidates for the upcoming election. The United4Northbrook slate is committed to full transparency, and we are willing to address the topics raised by the Caucus. We believe that information is power, and informed voters will be in a position to make the best choice for themselves and our community.
Here are some of the topics raised by the Caucus, and the FACTS related to those topics:
Ciesla’s team claims: U4N are attempting to “derail the affordable housing ordinance”.
The FACTS: The current village board rushed to approve the inclusionary housing ordinance during the pandemic when most residents were distracted by COVID and civil unrest. The board made little effort to secure comments or input from the community. The U4N team would organize community groups and would meet with business leaders to evaluate the Village plan and to make changes.
The board’s hastily-passed ordinance was not designed to prioritize seniors or those with disabilities, and it may even harm those groups. The ordinance exempts senior facilities from the affordable housing requirement (Ordinance 9-304C), and prohibits developers from using group homes for disabled people to meet the affordable housing requirement minimums (Ordinance 9-308A). It’s a fact that 4% of Northbrook residents live in poverty with the majority being widowed women 75 years and older.
Instead of helping seniors who are struggling in our community, the focus of the current ordinance is to “attract younger residents with affordable housing options” (Muriel Collision’s statement on 12/8/20 at the Village Board); and to “diversify the housing stock” and “create a more inclusive community” (Muriel Collision’s statements at the League of Women Voters candidate forum). U4N candidates would look to revise the current ordinance to provide more solutions for seniors and disabled people while continuing to support others in need of affordable housing.
More FACTS: The Demolition Tax just went into effect as of January 2021 as it received the Board’s approval to help support the affordable housing ordinance. The funds raised from this tax will be placed into the Housing Trust Fund. As described in a Village letter, “One of the primary purposes of the Fund will be to purchase and repair existing homes in the Village and retain them as affordable housing, typically held in a Community Land Trust. The funds can also be used to help fund improvements to existing homes for residents with lower incomes so they can remain in their homes and not have to leave the community.” While this sounds potentially helpful to support affordable housing solutions, one must wonder if any of these funds would support seniors looking to stay in their homes considering the current Board’s opinion that they are not a primary focus for their affordable housing ordinance.
More FACTS: Another proposed ordinance as part of this plan would allow most properties in Northbrook to replace one house with two or three dwelling units, or for houses to ad an additional dwelling unit (ADU) in the backyard. This would significantly impact the value of your property. U4N believes in affordable housing and simply wants to find a solution that meets the needs of all of our residents.
Ciesla’s team claims: Gene Marks used his voting power as the President to push through an approval for the developers and their proposal for what would have been the Center of the North Shore.
The FACTS: The Village President votes last in every vote and are the deciding vote only in a 3-3 tie amongst the Board. With this particular proposal, it passed the Plan Commission and was sent to the Board with a positive recommendation. After public hearings, the Village Board approved the project 6-1. While Gene voted in favor of the project, without his vote – or even a dissenting vote – it would have passed regardless.
Ciesla’s team claims: Gene received some sort of incentive related to the project passing the Board or was involved in the wrongdoings of the developer.
The FACTS: The proposal failed to move forward because the developer was unable to meet their obligations in the agreement and came under investigation as they were accused of falsifying loan documents. Gene was never found of any wrongdoing or illegal or inappropriate relations with the developer.
The FACTS: U4N candidates do believe in bolstering development within Northbrook as this will provide much needed amenities, homes and tax revenue. There is no conflict of interest or illegal or unethical behavior that has occurred. The donations were reported under the Illinois Board of Elections. Any and all development decisions made under a new Village Board will be voted on by the entire board and will be subject to public hearings and resident involvement.
More FACTS: The current Board – Ciesla, Collison – was largely put in place due to the influence of Barry Nekritz. Mr. Nekritz represents many developers who have been awarded projects throughout Northbrook such as 777 Skokie Blvd, The Elaine and the now defunct Northbrook Court project.
Ciesla’s team claims: Receiving donations from a Realtor group is another example of donors who are “stakeholders whose only interest is to make money, not help Northbrook residents”. THE FACTS: The Realtor PAC provided a donation to U4N. They are supportive of a slate of candidates who would make Northbrook a more attractive place to live, then causing an increase of activity in the local real estate market. Realtors do make money representing clients who buy/sell properties. Northbrook also makes money from a thriving real estate market as the more attractive Northbrook is to live, the more attractive it is for businesses to invest in this community, bringing amenities and tax revenue to the Village. This is very much a win and a “help” to residents.
The FACTS: With regards to funding, the Village approved a budget that shows just a 4% increase in the police budget, mostly due to COLA. They cut the training budget. With increases in crime, we wonder if we have enough investigators to look into crime prevention, will there be enough patrol cars on the streets to support the community and will the officers receive all the proper training.
More FACTS: We also know that the current Board has taken away health benefits from the police staff. In 2016 Officer Stephen Hanna was awarded full disability benefits due to catastrophic injuries that occurred in the line of duty. These benefits included PSEBA benefits (PPO coverage) until he reached 65 years of age. The Board changed coverage to a HMO plan under SOP #11-021. Under this plan because Mr. Hanna lives out of state, he cannot select a HMO plan at the Village’s expense and is left to cover the difference of the PPO or seek coverage through other avenues. To the best of our knowledge this change in coverage was not discussed at any Police Pension Fund Board meetings, any Village Board meetings or any discussions with the Committee of the Whole.
More FACTS: The Acorn Collective has endorsed the Caucus candidates. While organizations fighting discrimination and inclusion are commendable, Acorn believes in abolishing the police and the military. Some of the Caucus candidates walked last year in a BLM protest alongside people – some related to the candidates – carrying “All Cops Are Bastards” signs. What does it say about the Caucus and their support of the police if they align themselves to this ideology around the police and military? How can the Village President – who is considered the Chief Law Enforcement Officer truly lead and support a police department if they are in favor of abolishing them or feel that ACAB? More FACTS: While an elected Village Trustee, Kathryn Ciesla interfered with an officer responding to a call at a Northbrook residence. She intimidated the officer by berating him with expletives and barring him from entering the home. There is a signed affidavit by this responding officer which is also posted on this website. Her actions showcase a complete disregard for the officer, upholding the law and an abuse of her power as a Village Trustee.
The FACTS: The U4N candidates believe the Green Acres space could be developed in a very positive way to meet the multifaceted needs of our Village. We support plans for open green space, walking trails, a community garden and land use for the Park District. We are in favor of preserving trees and ensuring the developer is environmentally sensitive. We also believe some of the housing development should include affordable housing for all that need it. To just show how a development like this could impact the community, recent economic assessments of the latest proposal from the developer could provide tax payments over $3 million going to schools (District 28 and 225) and bring in around $3.8 million of tax revenue annually.
The FACTS: This is categorically false. All U4N candidates believe people of all ethnicities, race, gender, religion and sexual orientation should be treated equally and with respect, and we put our beliefs into practice. One of our candidates became an American citizen in 2020 and knows what it’s like to be a new BIPOC immigrant in America.