Depending on City Officials for Truth about Legality of Library Expansion? Please.

It was a toss-up whether to focus on DeKalb Public Library’s ongoing coyness about its expansion plans, or the role of local media in covering for it. How about a bit of both.

Today’s WTF moment is brought to you by the Daily Chronicle in “DeKalb officials expand on library land process, say everything appears kosher”.

City attorney Dean Frieders said the city council does not have to give its approval for the land purchase because it would be funded with “relatively short-term financing,” in the form of a bequest, rather than a tax increase, a mortgage or a municipal bond to purchase the land.

And, ahem, TIF money.

Here’s the comment I left on the story.

The development agreement may give the council a “say,” but according to library law the council does more than that — council makes the call. At any rate, why are we listening to the same city officials who flip-flop about whether council has the authority to set the library’s levy (it does), and who refuse to insist the library make its annual report to council using the same detailed report it sends to the state? Perhaps it is time for our state’s attorney to step in, at least to ask for an opinion from the Illinois Attorney General.

The alternative is to go to court.

Look, I can see why the City of DeKalb and DPL seem to think they have wiggle room. The Illinois Local Library Act, Section 5-1, says when a public library wants to purchase a site for construction, they “may proceed as follows…” It’s “may” as opposed to “shall.”

However, Section 5-1 is clearly a prerequisite for Section 5-2, which is the provision whereby the council “may,” upon approval of a plan, approve the issuance of bonds for construction, or at least take the total costs into consideration of a higher library levy.

Does anybody believe the DPL board will not approach the city with its hand out? It is dishonest to the process of council’s due diligence not to present the information for approval up front.

And it is lazy of the Chronicle to take the word of city and library officials who clearly are colluding.