Lester: Del Mar gets $20K appointment after exiting state Senate race

Despite holding the most votes among suburban Republican leaders selecting a replacement for state Sen. Matt Murphy last October, Palatine Township Republican Chairman Aaron Del Mar quietly took himself out of the running at the last minute.

Del Mar's move paved the way for the appointment of Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney, a consensus choice favored by Gov. Bruce Rauner and other Republican leaders.

Two months later, Del Mar - who already has taxpayer-supported jobs as Palatine Township highway commissioner and Palatine Rural Fire District trustee - has been named to a $20,000-a-year post by Rauner. Del Mar was named to serve four years on the board of the Illinois International Port District, which runs the Port of Chicago and owns roughly 1,500 acres near Lake Michigan and Lake Calumet.

Was it a quid pro quo? Rauner spokesman Catherine Kelly gave me a one-word response to that question this week: "No."

<h3 class="leadin">Party support

Del Mar, who didn't respond to requests for comment, has a degree in public management and experience as a Palatine councilman and small-business owner, a resume he pointed during the summer to when I questioned whether he was appointed to the Palatine Township posts with the help of the Palatine Township supervisor he slated during a 2013 primary election.

As a past Cook County GOP chairman, Del Mar led the party to support Rauner in the divisive 2014 gubernatorial primary.

In addition to Kelly's statements, a senior Rauner aide close to the appointment process told me the way Del Mar conducted himself regarding the state Senate candidate selection was an "indication of his character" and that the office believes "team players" make good board appointees.

The state Senate and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel must approve the appointment.

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Rob Sherman

'Quality of life'

"I'd like to live a long life, but I also believe in a quality of life." atheist and activist Rob Sherman, 63, told then-reporter, now-Metro Editor Lisa Friedman Miner in a November 1986 interview, which she says she remembers vividly. Sherman, a 32-year-resident of Buffalo Grove who recently had moved with his wife to Poplar Grove, died when his plane crashed into a field near Marengo over the weekend.

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Oakton Community College students traveled to a North Dakota Sioux reservation last month to observe protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Courtesy of Oakton Community College

From Des Plaines to (North) Dakota

Oakton Community College honors students moved quickly last month to organize a four-day trip to North Dakota to observe the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's protest over the routing of an oil pipeline.

Professor Richard Stacewicz says the core honors seminar students were assigned to find a current problem that interested them and analyze it from various perspectives. They embarked on the trip to better understand the factors that led to the standoff.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would stretch 1,172-mile miles from North Dakota to Patoka, an Illinois oil storage and pipeline hub about 75 miles east of St. Louis. Supporters say it would transport crude oil in an environmentally safer, more cost-effective way, but opponents say an oil leak would threaten drinking water and land held sacred by the tribe. The Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the pipeline this month, but both sides believe the issue will resurface.

<h3 class="leadin">A trip back home

A former Carpentersville resident who got her start singing and dancing at Santa's Village in East Dundee is among those nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best opera recording. Lucy Schaufer - part of the cast recording of "Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles" - also has a CD out that's a tribute to her hometown. Now living in England with her husband, British tenor Christopher Gillett, Schaufer says "Carpentersville" is a body of work that "envelops all of the things I love so dearly" and came from thoughts about her relationship with her father and her identity after his death. She tells me favorite memories include the town's "sense of community, brilliant teachers at Dundee-Crown High School and the German bakery that was in Meadowdale Shopping Center. And, of course, my first job singing and dancing four shows a day, seven days a week at Santa's Village." Check the album out here at

<h3 class="leadin">Changing school demographics

At 6:30 p.m. today, I'll be moderating the second in a series of panels on education funding hosted by the Illinois Humanities Council. Tonight's discussion at Bartlett High School, 701 W. Schick Road, will cover the topic of demographic change and the ways schools adapt. The first panel, held in October at Elgin High School, drew about 60 people turning out to voice their thoughts, including the Rev. Nathaniel Edmond of Elgin's Second Baptist Church, Elgin Area School District U-46 Community Advisory Council Chair Sue Kerr, state Rep. Fred Crespo and others. Other forums are scheduled for Chicago, moderated by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington, and downstate Illinois. Check out

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Chuck Huber, an Evanston native, is starring in the new Star Trek web series "Star Trek Continues." Courtesy of 'Star Trek Continues'

Beam me up

An Evanston native and DePaul University graduate will make an appearance at Con+Alt+Delete - a Japanese Anime Convention on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave, Rosemont. Chuck Huber, a voice actor in anime cartoons, also happens to be starring in the popular new web series "Star Trek Continues," in which he portrays compassionate doctor Leonard McCoy, played in the original series by DeForest Kelley. Huber now lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area. He'll appear Saturday on a convention panel at 12:30 p.m., in a filmmaking seminar at 2 p.m. and at an acting workshop at 6:30 p.m. For more information, see

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The Kroll family reached a record last weekend, baking 303 dozen holiday cookies. Courtesy of Beth Jordan-Kroll

Holy cookie

Reader Beth Jordan-Kroll of Lake Zurich writes that her family of baking enthusiasts hit a record at the annual cookie day last weekend, baking 303 dozen cookies in 38 different varieties, plus eight pounds of fudge and six pounds of caramels. That tops last year's record of 250 dozen, with 31 varieties. Jordan-Kroll says the tradition started more than 30 years ago, with more and more (mostly female) family members joining in over the years. These days, she says, tongue in cheek, more gender equity has been achieved, with men in the family helping out with "emotional support" and as "taste-testers."

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