My name is Brenda Weis and together, Lisa Stone and I are the founders of The Lake County-Vernon Township Coalition for Safe Drinking Water. Having been an ardent advocate for water quality for more than 40 years, I originally contacted Lisa Stone when I read an update of the Buffalo Grove Board's inactivity regarding Land & Lakes in 2010 in the Pioneer Press.
For many of these years Lincolnshire was rife with contamination along Milwaukee Avenue from illegal dumping which took place in the 50's and 60's. Trucks dumped toxics, etc. on their way to Wisconsin. I was always a skeptic and, have unfortunately never been wrong in any of my environmental concerns and pursuits, which have spanned decades. Having a science background, I learned how to research the issues that always proved to be well founded. I have worked with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) periodically since its inception, and consulted with many state and national organizations and experts in Environmental science.
For purposes of a smooth transition from this introduction, I choose to compare the Biblical tale of David & Goliath to a present day allegorical reality. This Biblical tale has been reenacted repeatedly throughout history. Bully tactics of criticism, insult and threats generally cause most to cower and retreat. At the same time examples of man's inhumanity toward his fellow man have been continually reaffirmed throughout the ages. Goliath was a brute, while David, without armor, focused on the job at hand, truth, and smote the evil giant with a slingshot. Please accept my version of the mighty struggle for the purposes of this commentary. The above fable aptly describes many situations in contemporary society. Monumental verbal battles are constantly waged throughout our civilized world. One such battleground today is taking place at the northeast tip of Illinois. Goliath is represented by three entities: The IEPA, which in Illinois has unique delegated authority, and by its nature precludes the US EPA from treading on its territory; the Buffalo Grove Village Board; and the Lake County Board and the Lake County Forest Board, which are made up of the same individuals.
Think of the latter governmental entities as a microcosm of government in Washington, D.C. Stand in the Rotunda of the Capital and literally "feel" the power. It is palpable. Why do many people crave power and find it intoxicating? Why do Congressmen tolerate the siege mentality of D.C. so doggedly!?
Similarly, why are certain Buffalo Grove board members desirous of retaining their seats for one, two and three decades? Could there be perks to be had from holding elected office! You bet. Just read the daily local, national, and international press for continuing new indictments. It appears that all too often longevity in office results in abuse and misuse of power, increasing vested interests and specific pet agendas often to the detriment of the electorate. Buffalo Grove board members are clearly not interested in shaking any apple carts.
In the above referenced epic battle, David is played by Lisa Stone who represents our Coalition, while Goliath is ably represented by the Buffalo Grove Village Board who seem to believe in the adage that "might makes right". Not only do they lose executive session official audiotapes, but also on occasion they have been known to mute the microphone of a dissenting elected voice. Other members of the troika include the Lake County Government and the IEPA.
Forget the extensive FOIA documentation, the IEPA apparent inaccuracies, and what appear to be business friendly official maps from Lake County and Buffalo Grove. Among our concerns are misidentifications and lack of visibility of critical bodies and streams of water, which can impact potable drinking water including community and private wells.
Forget the polluters and the waters into which they discharge. Forget the pregnant woman, the children and the infirm elders. Buffalo Grove appears to have adopted the old Chinese Code of Conduct, as represented by the three monkeys: See no evil; Speak no evil; and Hear no evil.
My initial involvement as an environmental activist actually began in 1970, at approximately the same time as the USEPA and the Illinois EPA became the official operating government agencies of environmental protection encompassing land, air, water humans and all other life forms. Having followed a premed curriculum and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA degree in Zoology, I was very curious about the science called ecology that I had recently studied. Little did I dream that in a few short years, safe water quality would become a major focus of my Community endeavors.
When the IEPA began operating, it established MINIMUM standards for compliance with the newly established state laws. This MINIMUM refers to acceptable levels of contaminants (when and where they may occur). In 1970, our efforts exposed Lincolnshire’s complicit relationship with the laboratory regularly testing our three wells. Reports of contaminated water from well #2 were being falsified as pure, while officials in the Village offices were drinking bottled water. The Village Engineer lost his job when this was publicly exposed; water testing lab personnel jailed and the lab itself permanently closed.
Construction on the Lake Michigan waterline was underway, but until the water was actually available, Lincolnshire did not have sufficient water to fight a fire during a peak usage day in the summer. Yet the omnipotent village board had, in their "we know what's best for you" judgment, extended water to the proposed Lincolnshire Corporate Center. Protestations of our group’s concerns were ignored and met with ridiculous estimates of future limited water usage equivalent to one flush per person per day at the corporate site. The situation was potentially grave. It was at this point that I persuaded the IEPA to become actively involved. The life and safety issues were of critical importance. The IEPA placed the entire development on a specific alert status, denying them access to Lincolnshire water until Lake Michigan water was actually available.
The majority of Lincolnshire residents, unaware of the water shortage, approved of the actual development. However, the finite nature of our available water at that time was dire. And yet the Village Board, in their collective wisdom, had put development ahead of maintaining minimum safety standards of water quality and quantity. And, so what if a few fecal coliform bacteria were in our drinking water! The "dummy citizens" who elected them didn't need to know that. We apparently also didn’t need to know about the severe water shortage. We had the Volunteer Fire Department putting their lives at risk! Talk about priorities!!! Fast forward to the summer of 2010, as I read the article about Land & Lakes in Pioneer Press, I thought to myself, “here we go again!” At that point I contacted Lisa Stone and introduced myself.
In the 70’s our small group of committed citizens mobilized and reached the fed-up electorate with a positive and authentic result because Lincolnshire residents had finally learned the truth. The next election, we threw out the majority of our board.
This contrasts diametrically to the historic and perversely unjustified November 2, 2010 recall of former Trustee Lisa Stone, who was railroaded out of office while she was sounding the alarm as a duly elected official should. Her demands for clarity and accountability were unacceptable to this BG Kangaroo Court, led by certain Board members who then funded and orchestrated her recall. What happened in Buffalo Grove is typical of what Government does to complacent citizens when pompous, smug, ego-chasing bureaucrats know what's best for them! Not what's best for you.
Buffalo Grove Board members do not wish to be questioned by our Coalition for Safe Drinking Water, or by anyone not warm and cozy. Notice how their demeanor changes on tape. Oh I almost forgot, they lost the password to all past meetings when Lisa Stone was on the Board. Fancy that! Fortunately for the electorate, citizens have every right to raise any issue, pleasant or unpleasant, whether the Board likes it or not.
Our Coalition is willing to stand up and be counted. But Buffalo Grove board members do not choose to countenance the citizen or concerned community member who is so audacious to question them about recorded documentation containing inconsistencies and disparities. How dare lowly citizens demand answers to questions regarding their health and welfare!
Are the Pekara Subdivision groundwater wells (PEKARA SBDV 0975900) supplying drinking water to areas which include unincorporated Deerfield 60015 and Prairie View 60069 providing safe potable water from the five wells or is the water of questionable quality (see Hoffelder Landfill report, Volume 1 of 2 pg. 29, lines 11-13) How can a Lake County Industrial Wastewater (NPDES IL0022055) facility and the Pekara wells serving almost 5000 people both be located at the same fictitious, nonexistent 800 Krause Drive, Buffalo Grove, 60089 address?
As you know, ultimately David defeated Goliath. Suit up Buffalo Grove.
Co-Founder of The Lake County-Vernon Township Coalition for Safe Drinking Water