South Beloit May Dump Its Labor Attorney

The mayor of South Beloit is considering taking over negotiations with city unions, citing slow results and large expense.

Mayor Randy Kirichkow estimates that the city has spent $320,000 on attorney’s fees in the last five years negotiating with the three city unions, which include the police officers, police sergeants and Street Department employees.

Kirichkow is ready to eliminate the city’s labor attorney, Jill Leka of Seyfarth and Shaw LLP, and negotiate directly with city employees face-to-face.

“Right now we’ve got one contract done,” Kirichkow said. “We were told by our labor attorney last fall that the sergeant’s contract would be done by the end of December and the Street Department would be done by April 1. There is no incentive for the attorneys to settle when they’re making $395 an hour. It seems senseless to continue to pay the attorney rather than just meet face-to-face and come to an agreement.”

The article caught the eye because the City of DeKalb uses the same firm. DeKalb paid Seyfarth Shaw $3183.50 in May (PDF p. 86). Continue reading South Beloit May Dump Its Labor Attorney

Chrysler Plans to Expand Belvidere Plant

Rockford Register Star reports that Chrysler intends to expand its Belvidere plant by 500,000 square feet to accommodate a larger body shop. Building might begin as early as this summer, and require 20,000 or more construction work hours. How many manufacturing jobs the expansion might ultimately create is not yet known.

This must be really good news for our neighbors employed at Johnson Controls, too. Bless.

This does not affect the plant’s annual 2-week summer shutdown, which begins July 12.

The $10,000,000+ Yard Sale

Yes, you read that right, the $10,000,000 yard sale. Last week at the Lincoln Highway Association annual conference in Dixon, one guest speaker was Mike Hocker, the Executive Director of the of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, and one of the key organizers of the annual Buy-Way in Ohio. Mike, who says he does not like yard sales, estimates the annual Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale brings in an extra $10,000,000 to the economy in Ohio, mostly for gas and lodging, without counting the yard sale profits themselves. Mike convinced the Ohio Department of Transportation to conduct three traffic counts during the yard sale last year. Compared to a ‘normal’ weekend, the traffic is up on yard sale weekend.

The first year, there were 250 sales in Ohio along the Lincoln Highway and it grew to around 1,000 yard sales last year. He and his wife traveled the length of the state, saying hello to as many of those hosting sales as possible. The Buy-Way in Ohio is a well-organized event that takes months of planning by volunteers, advertisers, businesses, and yard sale enthusiasts. An April edition of American Profile magazine which appeared in many of the Sunday papers all across the United States, featured an interview with Mike about the Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale. Continue reading The $10,000,000+ Yard Sale

Grassroots? Please.

The National Coffee Party has arrived in DeKalb, and if you missed the first meeting, do not despair. Visit the website where you can sign a pledge that you will not call other people bad names, and put together a “Sphere” toy in time for the next meet-up.

We are 100% grassroots. No lobbyists here. No pundits. And no hyper-partisan strategists calling the shots in this movement. We are a spontaneous and collective expression of our desire to forge a culture of civic engagement that is solution-oriented, not blame-oriented.

Solving the world’s problems in a sit-down with one’s neighbors is a worthy use of time and we should do it more often, particularly if it leads at least occasionally to action. However, I don’t believe a “movement” based on trying to act superior to Tea Party people is sustainable, and more generally I’m tired of national organizations generating gimmicks and trying to call themselves “the grassroots.” They’re not. It’s all top-down (and akin to ReNew DeKalb’s talking City Council into a skating rink and then hoping — or pretending — there was community-wide support for it just because they said so).

Why does it matter? It matters because these “grassroots movements” allow the illusion of home-grown activism without the risks. Tolerating such a charade is unacceptable when you know people who have paid a genuine price for trying to change the system — and who maybe wouldn’t have had to, if more grassroots were participating for real in the first place. Continue reading Grassroots? Please.

“Rubes:” Wind turbines generate animosity, health concerns among some in DeKalb County –

Wind turbines generate animosity, health concerns among some in DeKalb County –

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I stumbled upon an article in the “Chicago Tribune” about the wind farms in DeKalb County. I made the mistake of reading their comments. I already knew the “Trib” allows nastier comments than the “Daily Chronicle.” Anyway, a lot of folks in Chicago think we are a bunch of “rubes.”