City Watch: Mystery Solved*

Landlords and other business owners marched to City Hall last evening.

DeKALB – Frank Kasper stood outside the DeKalb Municipal Building before the DeKalb City Council meeting Monday with about 20 other residents holding neon-colored signs against tax increases and a proposed rental licensing program. Passing cars honked in support of the signs and could be heard from inside council chambers as city officials prepared for a meeting that included passing the 2009 budget.

While some protesters were upset over budget issues, Kasper, a landlord, is concerned about a proposal for a rental inspection program, something he said infringes on Fourth Amendment rights of private property.

The original crowd marched with 20 people, but grew to about 30 as the Committee of the Whole meeting wore on. Some protestors carried two or three signs, which they shared with new arrivals.

The Chronicle article got one thing glaringly (to me) wrong. They did not cut 10% from the Administrative Services Dept. budget, only 1.2%. Also the paper left out the administrative pay raise as well as the water rate and fee increases and helped the assistant city manager crow over the “balanced budget.” Well, FY2008 was supposed to be balanced, was it not? This budget does nothing to prevent us being in the same hole this time next year, if not earlier.

Two statements beg for rebuttal. Mayor Van Buer defends the skating rink idea because the funds come out of TIF instead of the General Fund. Holy cow, is TIF the cookie jar money? We KNOW it’s TIF and we still don’t like our funds spent that way. BTW it’s hugely politically tone deaf not to recognize it’s become symbolic of the waste.

Secondly, Ald. Naylor shows ignorance of his role when he continues to repeat how much city staff deserve raises and how we should be keeping up with the joneses in giving them. Excuse me, but–besides the fact that he seems to listen to his constituency not at all–the matter does not rest with how deserving people are or how much other communities are paying, rather with what makes sense in terms of ensuring the city’s financial health and paying what the community can afford.

*The protest was intended to take City Hall by surprise, but I hear somebody passed on the news to the wrong person and it did not remain a secret.