DeKalb Township is getting things done

With the election shenanigans and rough start of the new township board last year, I didn’t expect much from this public body at first. But eight months into it and they deserve credit for pro-public policies and practices. Meetings This week, for example, the board reversed an earlier decision to remove agenda background material from…

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…

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…

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…

DeKalb Park District property transfer could use another look

DeKalb Park District (DPD) passed a resolution last summer to convey park property to City of DeKalb for its new city hall. The transfer has since occurred under an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the two. City of DeKalb paid DPD a dollar for the property known as the Nehring building. Possibly illegally by ignoring the…

Story of Dixon sparks ideas for preventing fraud and building trust in city government

Last night I went to the Egyptian Theatre to watch “All the Queen’s Horses,” the documentary of Rita Crundwell’s embezzlement of more than $53 million from City of Dixon when she was treasurer-comptroller there. I won’t spoil the film, because even a person who followed Crundwell’s arrest and the aftermath quite closely is bound to…

DeKalb’s housing rehab program is seriously underperforming

Last night, City of DeKalb held a public hearing and approved an annual budget for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). CDBD is a federal program administered by HUD that helps ensure viable communities, particularly in the area of decent and affordable housing for low- to moderate-income residents. The general public did not participate in…

City’s water bill issue a symptom of a larger problem

***Updates 2/8: City says no double-billing was involved, so I’ve deleted statements below to the contrary. I do intend to look at 2017 billing cycle dates to confirm the bases for bills from previous months. That the error mostly affects customers on the south side has been confirmed. City remains silent on the plight of…