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Stein Objects to Trustee Candidate’s Petition

Buffalo Grove Trustee Andy Stein, who is running for a four-year term on the April 2013 ballot, has filed an objection to Jeff Battinus’ candidacy.

A Buffalo Grove trustee running for re-election filed an objection Wednesday to another candidate’s petition, saying Jeffrey Battinus did not file all of the required paperwork needed to place his name on the April 9 ballot.

Andy Stein, who also filed for candidacy, challenged Battinus on Jan. 2 after noticing that his statement of economic interests was missing. Candidates are required to submit the form during the election filing period. The State Board of Elections’ 2013 candidate guide outlines all paperwork requirements and filing deadlines. 

“The statement [of economic interests receipt] must be filed during the calendar year in which the nominating petitions are filed. While the receipt need not accompany the nominating petitions at the time of filing, it must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last day for filing the petitions,” the guide states.

Filing for the 2013 municipal election ended Dec. 26. Battinus announced on his “Elect Jeff Battinus” Facebook page that his filed his paperwork Dec. 17.

On the afternoon of Jan. 2, the Cook County clerk’s office did not have a statement of economic interests on file for Battinus, spokeswoman Courtney Greve said. However, Buffalo Grove’s deputy village clerk, Jane Olson, said she received a copy of the statement Wednesday at Village Hall. Battinus confirmed that he filed the form with the county that day.

“As far as the form itself, I can’t speak to it,” said Battinus, who said his attorney is looking into the matter. “It was a technicality on my part, which I’ll have to be accountable for.”

While the form is listed among the requirements for local election candidates, failure to submit it would not prevent one from running unless someone files an objection and that objection is upheld.

“It’s disappointing that he’s opposed to allowing the voters of Buffalo Grove to actually have a choice,” Battinus said. “What Andy Stein is doing is trying to have the courts decide the election instead of having the people of Buffalo Grove decide it.”

Voters will elect three trustees this spring. If Battinus is removed from the ballot, three candidates will remain. In addition to Stein and Battinus, Beverly Sussman and Lester Ottenheimer — two other current trustees — filed to run in the election.

Stein said he reviewed the paperwork filed by all of the candidates.

“After much careful consideration I decided that I must take this action to protect the integrity of the election process,” he wrote in an email to Patch. “This failure by Mr. Battinus is not just a clerical error. This is part of the State Election statute that was put in place to try and give the voters some assurance that elected officials do not have personal economic interests in the decisions they make for the residents. It is important that we as public officials, potential or existing, do everything we can to uphold the trust placed in us. That includes being certain that a critical, required, document be properly filled out and filed to ask for the votes of our fellow residents.”

"I find it disingenuous that when somebody does something wrong, they try to shift the blame," Stein said in response to Battinus' comment. "If anyone deprived the residents of Buffalo Grove of a choice, it was him when he didn't follow the rules."

Stein said he called Battinus Jan. 1 to alert him that someone was planning to file an objection. He did not disclose that he was the objector, and he said he “suggested that [Battinus] consider withdrawing from the election instead of going through the process.” 

That process includes a review with Buffalo Grove’s electoral board, which is made up of Village President Jeff Braiman, Village Clerk Janet Sirabian and Jeff Berman, the longest-serving trustee. If the board finds fault with Battinus’ paperwork, Battinus has the option of appealing its decision with the Cook County Circuit Court.

Battinus said he won’t withdraw from the race.

“I will fight it,” Battinus said. “If I’m unsuccessful, I’ll come back another year. I want to serve my community.”

casey kline, How true! Becomes ' ... give them an inch ... they'll take a mile! '
chuck posniak January 03, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Buffalo Grove has recently had a horriffic time with a trustee who couldn't follow the rules. We can't let that happen again. Like Battinus, that candidate was never seen at village board meetings before the election in which she won election. So if Battinus really wants to serve the village to which he recently moved, I welcome him and urge him to start attending board meetings so we can get to know him before we are asked to vote for him if he decides to run in the future.
ed conner January 03, 2013 at 08:05 PM
I understand the "rules are the rules" objections, but no one has answered my question as to what harm is being done to the village by a candidate missing what is, after all, an arbitrary date for filing a document. Very few things are black and white -- there are degrees of bending the rules, and this particular instance does not seem to rise to the level of disqualifying someone. I don't know Trustee Stein, but on the surface he does seem to be motivated by a desire to stifle competition in the upcoming election (the article states that Battinus would still be able to run with late paperwork unless someone objected). Why possible reason would Trustee Stein have to object other than getting Battinus out of the race? I don't know anything at all about Battinus, but it seems to me that this kind of thing simply deters people from getting involved, when we should be encouraging the opposite.
Mark Bushey January 03, 2013 at 08:06 PM
I do not think this is an incident of "not following the rules." This is more like an oversight on Jeff's part, by a first time candidate who has never filled paperwork out for such a thing. The Patch is constantly filled with complaints about the board, and Battinus is the only running against the board. I hope he does stay in, and hopefully he does win.
casey kline January 03, 2013 at 09:02 PM
ed conner / Mark Bushey: I agree it looks like a simple oversight... and I have nothing against this guy, in fact I agree there needs to be some "competition" for the board - however this was not a "arbitrary" date chosen by the Village of Buffalo Grove - we are talking about compliance with the State of Illinois Election Code - and all candidates were aware of the dates.
Stuart Tindall January 03, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Chuck, I don't think the two are analogous at all. One person wouldn't follow the rules. The other corrected his error once notified. Let's have some holiday cheer and practice forgiveness.
Abigail January 04, 2013 at 01:18 AM
I, too, think Stein may have been rather petty, enough so that I will take a closer look at the competition (Battinus) as soon as more information is available. But, I will say this, IF Battinus is removed from the ballot because of Stein's objection, you can bet I will not vote for Stein.
RELENTLESSCRITIC January 04, 2013 at 03:38 AM
I don't know anything about Battinus and I guess I feel a bit bad that he missed the deadline, but given the issues we've had with certain trustee candidates (in particular, one who managed to get elected) playing fast and loose with rules, I think we need to be careful about giving Battinus a hall pass. It could set a bad precedent, which we certainly don't need. Also, based on what I know and have observed of Stein, I doubt this was done out of spite or pettiness. Seems like a very diligent straight laced guy, and he's reasonably done well as a trustee and he's a very active and involved community volunteer. Heck, the guy's a Boy Scout (literally) and not a typical politico, so I don't really think this is him trying to play political hardball. My guess is that he's a stickler for the rules, which ain't such a bad thing, IMHO.
ed conner January 04, 2013 at 02:28 PM
If he were a stickler for the rules, he should have spoken up each time Lisa Stone exceeded her 10 minutes at the podium. He did not, so why is he a stickler for some rules and not others? You can't have it both ways. I don't know Stein's motives. What I do know is that if this objection is upheld, Stein (and the other two trustees, who did not see the need to file an objection) will be re-elected automatically. Regardless of his motives, the end result is that his objection guarantees his re-election. To me, allowing a choice to the electorate trumps the grandiose principle of "following the rules", especially since in this instance the rule is based on an arbitrary date (and yes, it is arbitrary -- by definition -- regardless of what some here have written) and has caused ZERO damage to the Village, the citizens, or the electoral process. Again, if there had been no objection from anyone, Battinus would be on the ballot. Someone had to make a stink in order to ban him from running, and it just smells bad to me that the person who did so had the most to gain.
Abigail January 04, 2013 at 03:46 PM
I wholeheartedly agree with everything Ed said. This whole thing smells bad.
chuck posniak January 04, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Ed My Dad use to say "you're not guilty of breaking the law unless you got caught". I never knew my Dad to break the law and I never knew if he really believed that statement; but I know that I never did and never will. I also know that "if there had been no objection" Battinus would have still broken the law; even though it was probably not intentional and it "has caused Zero damage". Jeff B. I don't know you but I think you should be a stand up guy; admit AGAIN that you goofed up; withdraw; use the next 2 years to learn more about the village; and then give me the chance to vote for you. Good luck.
ed conner January 04, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Chuck, have you ever exceeded the speed limit by even one mile per hour? Have you ever failed, even once, to come to a complete stop at a stop sign? Have you ever crossed a street somewhere other than the crosswalk at the corner? If so, each time you were breaking the law and didn't get caught. There are degrees of bad behavior. Going 50mph in a 25mph residential zone is one thing, but going 26 in a 25mph zone is another. Both are illegal, but I believe most people would agree that one is much worse than the other and most people would also agree that giving a ticket to the driver going 26 is unreasonably punitive. To me, filing a document 3 business days later than the law dictates is about the same as going 26 in a 25mph zone, and barring a person for running for office for this minor oversight also seems unreasonably punitive.
sankar January 04, 2013 at 05:10 PM
I think Mr.Stein reads this forum, did he notice the issue only after the deadline for filing passed on 12/31 or he knew about it before and chose not to reveal it till after the deadline passed.
chuck posniak January 04, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Ed. I have never exceeded the speed limit by one mile an hour. It is usually at least 4 or 5. And yes I broke the law. My point however was not that I am a saint; it was that just because nobody caught me, doesn't mean that I didn't break the law. AND that even if Stein hadn't reported Battinus, Battinus would have still broken the law. I have never seen a law written that says "I am an arbitrary law so only follow me if you want". I expect those politicians that make my laws and spend my tax dollars to uphold the law of the land. It's too bad when they don't.
ed conner January 04, 2013 at 07:39 PM
I agree that the law is not arbitrary, but the date certainly is. He complied with the law -- he did not ignore it or flaunt it, he was just a few days late. This is his first time filing for candidacy, so it just seems reasonable to me to give him a pass on something this trivial. We give politicians passes all the time for oversights -- any candidate who has ever filed an amended tax return is correcting some kind of oversight or failure to comply with the law (case in point: Mitt Romney). In Battinus' case, he isn't even an elected official spending your tax dollars yet -- and now he won't get the chance to disappoint you further because he will likely be barred from running.
casey kline January 04, 2013 at 07:52 PM
As I have said before, I agree that this appears to be a simple oversight... and I have nothing against Mr Battinus, nor am I a supporter of Mr Stein (or the rest of the BG board for that matter) but what would you propose be done if someone shows up to register to vote a "few days" after voters registration closes? When do the rules get "bent" and when do they not? You see the open/close dates of voter registration are also what you consider "arbitrary" - but are also set forth in the State of Illinois Election Code (along with the filing deadlines)
ed conner January 04, 2013 at 08:11 PM
I don't believe that is a fair analogy. He did not show up 3 days late out of the blue, unannounced, and try to get on the ballot. My understanding is that ONE document (out of many) was a few days late. So, yes, under these circumstances, this is a case where I believe the rules should be "bent". What if he filed all his paperwork on time, but due to a photocopy error, that one document was not in the file? Would you ban him for that technicality? I'm not saying that is what happened, but the hard line you are taking with this amounts to the same thing -- you would ban him from running because of a clerical error, and I would not.
casey kline January 04, 2013 at 08:18 PM
as I said - I agree it was an oversight - I'm just playing devils advocate - but try telling the IRS that you were missing a page of your tax return due to a photocopy error - and see if they waive the interest and penalty. (end of discussion I promise)
ed conner January 04, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Well, if our standard of fair and reasonable behavior is going to be the IRS, then God help us all.
Mark Bushey January 04, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Why wasn't this pointed out to him when he filed his paperwork? It was obviously noticed by someone. He is a first time candidate. He handed his paperwork to some sort of city employee. Shouldn't they have looked to see if everything was there in time?
Abigail January 04, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Excellent point, Ed. Why didn't the person who received and recorded the documents advise Battinus of the omission? I'm sure this person had to make sure all the documents were there and provide a receipt that the documents were received and date-stamped.
chuck posniak January 04, 2013 at 10:41 PM
What is the magic number of days that it becomes not ok? If 3 days is ok, what about 4? 5 is only one more day than 4? How about 6 if 5 is ok? There has to be a deadline somewhere. Maybe he should have asked for a review when he turned it in. Maybe he should have taken the time to make sure he understood the requirements before he turned it in. We all know about ignorance of the law.
Abigail January 04, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Chuck, if the people who accepted those documents did not make sure they were all in order then why the heck are those people there? Isn't it their job to make sure everything is accounted for?
chuck posniak January 05, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Abigail. I'm not sure that the village clerk's job is to verify that the applications are complete. I just don't know. Since the village clerk is one of the three people that will decide the issue on Monday, I hope she will address that issue on Monday. If it is part of her duties and it wasn't done, I would drop any objection to keeping Jeff on the ballot.
Alan Moore January 05, 2013 at 04:35 AM
The code says that the "papers are to be deemed valid unless objected to". It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure everything is submitted properly. If you google around, removal from a ballot for failure to file this economic statement has been upheld by all the courts. It is kind of a big deal.
chuck posniak January 05, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Alan I understand that the petition packets potential candidates are given is specific that the candidates are responsible for making sure everything is complete. The clerk is only responsible for ACCEPTING the paperwork. I would hope that a trustee would never be this careless with village business.
Jeff Battinus January 05, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Please visit the Elect Jeff Battinus Facebook page to review the submitted paperwork when Jeff Battinus' candidate petitions were filed on December 17th. This form was completed by and confirmed (signed off) by the Village Clerk's office. This states that the Cook County Statement of Economic Interest was received by the Village. This was submitted 9 days prior to the filing deadline, with ample time to resubmit the candidate packet should an error have been identified and of course, this would have been done.
chuck posniak January 05, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Jeff I'm sorry you created this problem for yourself, but does the following look familiar? "It is the responsibility of the candidate to be sure petitions and related forms are in order. Please remember that a 2012 Statement of Economic Interest must be filed with the COOK County Clerk by the close of business on December 24, 2012. " You received it in your packet. And it couldn't be any clearer as to what needed to be done and whose responsibilty it was. Checkmate. I don't know you, but I urge you to get involved; start coming to board meetings; man-up and withdraw; then do it right next time.
BG2013 January 06, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Look at your own paperwork. The economic interest filing is not checked off. You blew it, admit it.
Teddy W January 06, 2013 at 02:53 AM
As far as I am concerned, the whole trustee board blows. We have the cream of the crap sitting as trustees, I like the way Stein decided to call Jeff and tell him to withdraw. If I were Jeff I would say "screw you". I know for a FACT that trustees call potential candidates and urge them to withdraw. I will stop short of calling it a threat, but there is intimidation. I wish Stein were honest and say, "hell yea I want him out of the election race". Instead he says he just wants to hold up the judicial process. That is so fake. Most people would rather run against nobody, just be honest.

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