Lester: Maine Township trustee outraged expenses cost more than aid
A Maine Township trustee is criticizing administrative costs for a program for the poor that are more than three times the amount of aid actually provided to needy residents.
"I think it's an outrage," says Trustee Susan Sweeney, a Park Ridge Republican and unsuccessful 2012 candidate for state representative.
In 2016, Maine Township spent $678,583 on administrative expenses from its general assistance fund and $196,101 on grants and services including mental health services, domestic violence prevention programs and meals for seniors.
By comparison, Hanover Township spent $173,151 on administrative expenses and $191,289 on services and grants. Niles Township spent $102,015 on administrative expenses and $249,654 on services and grants. But Addison Township in DuPage County spent $239,976 on administrative expenses and $35,732 on services and grants.
<h3 class="leadin">Less overhead, more services
General assistance is one of three main responsibilities of township government, along with property assessment and road and bridge maintenance. Most townships collect a property tax specifically to provide aid.
The issue was raised after my Daily Herald colleague Chacour Koop reported last month that Maine Township Supervisor Laura Morask hired a political ally for a new $30,000 part-time fundraising position for the township food pantry without conducting a job search.
"I want the township to provide help to people in need," Sweeney said. "It's ludicrous to think we can continue to hire."
Morask did not return calls seeking comment.
<h3 class="leadin">'A new host'
In the wake of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library canceling an immigrants rights seminar after threatening calls were received at the library and the library board president's home, an Arlington Heights-based priest wants to help find an alternative location.
The Rev. Corey Brost, who also works as an immigration attorney, told me he personally reached out to library board President Deb Smart to help with the free workshop sponsored by the Community Activism Law Alliance in the future. Smart has said she's open to hosting the event off-site in the future, but the Viatorian order hasn't yet made a commitment to host it.
Welch to try again with cursive bill
Democratic state Rep. Chris Welch of Hillside tells me he hopes the legislature will override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of his bill requiring schools to teach cursive handwriting. Rauner called the legislation "another unfunded mandate" but Welch says "the benefits are proven, and educators say it would cost nothing to implement a unit into the curriculum." The bill passed both chambers with bipartisan support in the spring.
An overwhelming response
Renowned Aurora chef Amaury Rosado received such an overwhelming response for his offer to "make, create and cook a tasting menu for a dinner where all proceeds go to Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico" that he's holding dinners in three different cities. The longtime owner of Chef Amaury's told Facebook friends he'll be holding dinners in Phoenix, Dallas and Chicago in the coming weeks. Rosado's Chicago event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4, at Kitchen Chicago, 324 N. Leavitt St., Chicago.
<h3 class="leadin">Rapid response SUV takes cake
The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference - a group of 33 municipal governments in DuPage County - has awarded Elmhurst its best innovation award for the city's new advanced life support rapid response vehicle, a single-staffed SUV that enables first responders to reach accidents and attend to medical emergencies faster than a traditional ambulance or fire truck. Among other awards, Schaumburg took best presentation honors for a video parody of "The Office" television show to highlight the benefits of its new traffic dashboard that makes transportation data more accessible. Among other entries" Aurora's 80-mile fiber optic network and Naperville's Open Data Naperville project, a one-stop interactive database for city information.