Where’s Wogen?

Last night at the Council meeting I asked 3rd Ward Alderman Victor Wogen to state for the record where he is living now. This seems fair; after all, I had to submit my address to speak at the meeting. Astoundingly, instead of answering he looked to the attorney for help, and she said he didn’t have to answer.

From the City of DeKalb’s new website:

Bertrand Simpson
2570 Soros Ct.

Tom Teresinski
119 Ilehamwood Drive

Brendon Gallagher
423 S. Second Street

Ron Naylor
328 W. Sunset Place

Dave Baker
560 W. Lincoln Highway

Brent Keller
1212 Varsity Blvd. Apt 107

This is information freely given to all who seek it, except in the case of Third Ward Alderman Victor Wogen. He gets to live anywhere he wants, residency requirements be damned and how dare we ask! Thanks, Council. Lest we fool ourselves into thinking we have representation, you faithfully drag us back to the reality that you are out for none but yourselves.

a) Pursuant to Article VII, Section 6 (f) of the Constitution of the State of Illinois (1970) and a Referendum Election held pursuant to Illinois Compiled Statutes, (65 ILCS 5/28-4), when vacancies in the office of alderman are occasioned by reason of resignation, failure to elect or qualify, death, permanent physical or mental disability, conviction of a disqualifying crime, abandonment of office or removal from office or of residency from ward, the City Council shall call a special election to fill said vacancy if at the occurrence of said vacancy, the unexpired term was more than eighteen (18) months in length; and if the unexpired term is eighteen (18) months or less in length, the Mayor may, with the advice and consent of the City Council, appoint a person to serve as alderman in the vacancy until the next general election.

What Article VII, Section 6 (f) says is that “A home rule municipality shall have the power to provide for its officers, their manner of selection and terms of office only as approved by referendum or as otherwise authorized by law.” As for 65 ILCS 5/28-4, there’s no such Article. There is 10 ILCS 5/28‑4, which covers objections to nominating petitions and petitions to submit public questions. What I think they mean to reference is a section or two of 10 ILCS 5/10, the Election Code.

The mess that is the DeKalb Municipal Code will have to wait for another day, though, as will the competence of the city’s legal counsel. The bottom line here is that it appears to be up to the City Council to determine when an alderman no longer resides in his ward because no legal definition of a temporary absence exists. Instead of allowing the possibility of an absence to drag out 3 months, 6 months or more without direction, the council should make this part of the next meeting agenda, hash it out in the open and set a deadline — or explain why this isn’t the responsible thing to do.