City Clerk Violates Open Meetings Act

[UPDATE 7/16: The June 11 council meeting minutes are posted at the city site as of today, exactly three weeks late and two days after this letter appeared in the Chronicle. Under Item L, Citizen Comments: “Ms. Frances Loubere, 826 North 7th Street, DeKalb, spoke regarding the results of the recent 3rd Ward election.” (Of course, as in the May 29 citizens comments it was more than that. Ms. Loubere was also asking Wogen to clarify his positions and denounce the tactics of his backers.) Under Item M, Reports: “Ald. Wogen responded to comments made by Ms. Frances Loubere. He noted he would like to get past the issue, move on and do a good job for the 3rd Ward, and hopefully all can move forward together.” (Where’s the part where he said he was as pro-gay as Steve Kapitan?)]

[UPDATE 7/15: The June 11 council meeting minutes still have not been posted at the city’s website. I understand from Wogen Watch that requests for investigations have been made at the state’s attorney’s and attorney general’s offices.]

A snippet of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, regarding the taking and posting of meeting minutes:

(5 ILCS 120/2.06) (from Ch. 102, par. 42.06)
Sec. 2.06. Minutes.
[…]
(b) The minutes of meetings open to the public shall be available for public inspection within 7 days of the approval of such minutes by the public body. Beginning July 1, 2006, at the time it complies with the other requirements of this subsection, a public body that has a website that the full‑time staff of the public body maintains shall post the minutes of a regular meeting of its governing body open to the public on the public body’s website within 7 days of the approval of the minutes by the public body. Beginning July 1, 2006, any minutes of meetings open to the public posted on the public body’s website shall remain posted on the website for at least 60 days after their initial posting.

The minutes of the June 11 Committee-of-the-Whole and Regular City Council meetings were approved during the June 25 Regular meeting. As of today, these minutes are still not posted at the city’s website. This isn’t the first time, either.

Council Meeting 6/25: Orr Farm Annexation

The public did not participate in the public hearings last night.

There were three of them, of most general interest probably concerning the annexation of the Orr Farm to Park 88. One of the most puzzling of proponents’ assertions is that the development of this property will alleviate flooding in the nearby, long-suffering east-side neighborhood called Dodge.

Since commercial and industrial development of farmland has only rarely improved bad drainage situations, this needs to be explained. It would help if there were any decent maps available, but apparently not even aldermen have access to much. And they expect the citizenry to speak knowledgably in public on this issue?

That’s not to say that people aren’t talking outside of the meetings. After the Council adjourned, a resident of the aforementioned area detailed the flooding of the Wurlitzer pond that sometimes results in sewage backups and floating logs (as in the wooden kind, but still). I believe this gentleman intends to take his story to the Sanitary District but it’s too bad he did not speak to the city as well; it’s not the Sanitary District that puts in the buildings and pavement.

If blogging were my day job, I’d also be talking here about the Daley Group lobbying contract and the meeting-minutes controversy, both of which have more discussion going on outside of Council chambers than inside–by the regular joes, anyway. Those topics will have to wait a bit unless someone wants to start something in the comments.

Chronicle coverage here.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It seems that City Clerk Donna Johnson has a problem hearing Mr. Wogen’s name anytime a citizen says it.

If you watch the City Council meetings and then read Ms. Johnson’s minutes of those meetings you may wonder if you were in the same room. Or at least when it comes to the public comments portion of the meeting.

Let me give a couple of examples. If you have been following the council meetings in person or by cable, you know that on May 14th Mr. Herb Rubin spoke about Mr. Wogen’s lying to the public. When the minutes came out the City Clerk (You recall the one hugging Mr. Wogen on election night after his big 13 vote victory. As shown on the front page of the Daily Chronicle.) chose to summarize Mr. Rubin’s comments this way:

“He had an issue with one newly-elected Alderman, who he said failed to tell the truth. He added trust is needed for government to function.”

I don’t know about you but I think if I were Mr. Simpson or Mr. Keller, the other two “newly-elected aldermen,” I’d be pretty upset that it is now public record that one of the three does not value the public’s trust. Continue reading Do You Hear What I Hear?

Council Watch

When I first began attending city meetings, one of the things that struck me most was the “tip of the iceberg” quality of the media coverage. Daily Chronicle reporting of the June 11 regular City Council meeting, for example, was concerned with only one agenda item, that of improving the facades of downtown buildings. There was nothing in the article regarding Alderman Donna Gorski’s expression of disappointment with the quality of the materials provided by the Park 88 people in the matter of the Orr Farm annexation, nor mentioned was her suggestion to extend the public hearing on the annexation through the next meeting (which the council did) when it became apparent that too many people were taken by surprise.

Something else you’ve missed, if you only read the newspaper, is that the heat on Alderman “Slick Vic” Wogen has not let up. At least one person, and as many as three, have aired their disgust and distrust of Wogen at every council meeting since he was installed in office last month.

My distrust lies just as much with the city clerk’s office and a few city employees at this point. This is partly a repercussion from the smear mailer, as it is now apparent that the city clerk does not mind violating privacy rules when it will put her friends in office; it also has to do with a scene I witnessed at the May 14 regular council meeting. Continue reading Council Watch