College Town Partners Agreements are Kind of Cray, but Still Important


I’ve read the College Town Partners documents that were leaked to the Preserve Our Neighborhoods (PON) group. (Want copies? Send an email to

The agreements, which were never signed, lay out a corporate partnership between City of DeKalb, NIU, a local developer and two banks.

They strike me as kind of nuts, actually, being fraught with conflicts of interest that government bodies could never ignore. Whoever developed them — at this point I’m envisioning somebody’s partially demented but clout-heavy uncle who must be humored — possesses no grasp of the “public” part of public projects.

For example, the agreements place the DeKalb city manager in the position of manager of a self-interested company operating in the same community. They also attempt to make rules for the participation of the government bodies (e.g.: confidentiality, non-compete clause, predetermined developer) but that’s the flip of what’s supposed to happen.

The plans as written didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in sunlight. Still, somebody thought enough of them to stuff 60 pages into an envelope to mail to the PON folks. Why? I think it must be a warning that an awful lot of planning has been going on behind closed doors, and that some of it may not represent the public interest.

Speaking of which, let’s look at the recent naughtiness of your mayor that ties in here.

I attended the May 3 Town Hall meeting of DeKalb and NIU officials; there, in response to an audience question, Mayor Rey stated that the DeKalb City Center Project Management Team has met twice and that the agendas and meeting minutes are available to anyone who requests them.

The team would almost certainly have been involved in discussions of the College Town Partners agreements.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I found out yesterday at the press conference that PON representatives have been unable to obtain any of the documents they’ve requested of Mayor Rey via email, and my own check of online meeting agendas confirms that no Project Management Team meeting minutes have been received and filed by the city council since its inception last November.

If there is a crazy old uncle in the background, the minutes might prove embarrassing. However, embarrassment doesn’t exempt anyone from state Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act rules.