Advice & Consent


From Chapter 2 of the DeKalb Municipal Code (PDF p. 2):

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.

By contacting the remaining aldermen to build a pre-meeting consensus, the mayor cheated us out of hearing and responding to the advice of Council members in the matter of the Third Ward aldermanic appointment. He is set to do so again in the case of the newly-vacated Seventh Ward.

After I expressed interest in serving on a city commission (2006 give or take), the next step was to send my resumé to city hall. Mayor Van Buer selected me for the spot and the resumé was added to the agenda packet for a regular Council meeting. There was no expectation of anonymity or privacy; there were no redactions of any of the personal information in the document. It became a public record and, had there been any discussion prior to the formal vote to appoint, it would have occurred as part of the open Council meeting.

Is an Enviro commissioner more important than a council member? To watch the city it would seem so. We’ve yet to see the resumé of the new Third Ward alderman — still waiting for an update on her employment status with Barb City Manor, for one thing — and evidently working deals behind closed doors to obtain unanimity was prioritized over the risk of embarrassment over a potential “nay” or two.

But make no mistake over the importance of the Public Access Counselor’s upcoming opinion on whether or not violations of the Open Meetings Act occurred. If the mayor can do an end run around OMA by phoning aldermen individually, he will end up conducting a lot of business that way.

Oh — and Seventh Ward aldermanic applicants, please do us all a favor and create public records by e-mailing the mayor, not phoning, to express your interest.