Unauthorized compensation of city commissioners: the fix should be simple

City of DeKalb has been paying compensation to at least two of its advisory commissions without proper authorization. Members of the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners both receive what look like meeting per diems in the expenditure records. But it turns out the payments aren’t properly authorized…

We could strengthen open meetings laws by plugging the ‘walking quorum’ loophole

I decided to find out more about Sycamore’s new city manager (who comes to us from Wisconsin) and ended up adding to my vocabulary. A ‘walking quorum’ is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in…

Addressing DeKalb Public Library’s proposed 14%-plus levy increase

During DeKalb’s public hearing on its property tax levy, which includes the library’s levy, several people spoke out about the library’s plan to increase its take by more than 14%. They requested the city council hold library trustees accountable for the request, which they view as irresponsible. DeKalb claims that it must approve any levy…

Water reservations in DeKalb

Third in a series. First one is here. Second is here. Water conflicts continue to develop in the Joliet area. A small but vocal group of protesters gathered on the steps of Joliet city hall on Monday night to rail against Mayor Robert O’Dekirk’s controversial plan to solve a looming water crisis by tripling rates…

DeKalb planning to ignore existing policies to sideline the clerk’s office once again

City council will take up a proposal tomorrow to appoint the executive assistant as permanent recorder of the meeting minutes. They can’t bar the city clerk from attending meetings and taking minutes, so here’s what they’ve come up with: The follow-on ordinance…will not prevent the Clerk from taking minutes and presenting them, but the Council…

Elements of a sound policy for automated license plate readers

The Daily Chronicle covered the October 11 city council discussion that led to approval of the purchase of 12 automated license plate readers. The newspaper purports to know how DeKalb PD plans to use the ALPRs, but that is not entirely true. They talked about some aspects, but as yet DeKalb has no formal policy…

Water is the new TIF

This is second of a series. First one is here. For years, DeKalb bailed out its general operating budget with tax increment financing (TIF) funds. TIF administrative fees helped soften the blows following the 2008 market crashes and assisted the hiring spree after that. Now the enormous “TIF 1” district is gone, replaced by the…

DeKalb taps into water trends

First of a series. The Better Government Association recently published an article about Joliet’s ambitious and controversial mayor, who plans to buy Lake Michigan water from Chicago. [Water scarcity] tensions have arrived in northeastern Illinois, which, despite its proximity to the world’s fourth-largest source of fresh water, faces a coming water crisis. Among the first…

Housing authority’s dealings with Morning Star Media

A month ago Ryan Weckerly, president of Morning Star Media, Ltd., agreed to plead guilty in federal court to charges related to a $3 million-plus kickback scheme. Several units of local government have paid Morning Star over the past decade. City of Sycamore gave the company TIF money to help it settle in new digs…

A look back: DeKalb and its radium water

25 years ago, residents of DeKalb organized to pressure the city to reduce the amount of radium in our drinking water. The city, which already had obtained a variance that allowed it to exceed EPA limits for radium, required a second variance in 1996 to obtain permits to extend water mains for new construction. This…