Education Finance Reform & District 70

I attended Candidates’ Night at Kishwaukee College last week. The 70th District* candidates were there along with DeKalb County Board candidates, county clerk and county treasurer, and two judges from the 16th Circuit. One of the more interesting parts was how little it can matter what party you belong to when it comes to countywide issues. No one party has a monopoly on conservation, farmland preservation, management of the growth of government, support for veterans or the jail referendum. At this level, a good (or bad) idea can just be itself.

For me, the meat served up that night came from Rep. Bob Pritchard and Chuck Sauer, the pharmacist/attorney who is after Pritchard’s seat in the 70th District. Continue reading Education Finance Reform & District 70

The Airlines & the Jail

Everybody knows that the county jail is full. Another referendum this fall, same as two years ago, will ask voters to approve a 1/2-cent hike in the local sales tax–a “public safety” tax–to fund expansions to jail-related programs and services.

What’s plain is that the decision had to be made about whether we are going to house our own prisoners or transport them to facilities in other counties, and the county board has made it. What maybe hasn’t been so plain is how they came up with the number they’re asking for, and how two airlines fit into the tax picture–in a big way. Continue reading The Airlines & the Jail

Hey, District 428: First things first!

The Daily Chronicle reports today that DeKalb School District is considering hiring a Communications Director (translation: PR person).

DeKALB – It’s hard to imagine a multimillion-dollar corporation without a communications director.

But that’s just what the DeKalb School District is, said Northern Illinois University professor of communications Steve Ralston.

On Tuesday, Ralston talked to the school board about creating a communications plan for the district. District officials have said the district wants to provide more information to the public about the school district, and the best way to do it is to hire a person to oversee that on a daily basis. The board has debated hiring an individual or a public relations firm.

So, they want to hire an expert to say nice things about the schools and pay him/her $100,000 per year.

Here’s what the Northern Star had to say about our high school recently:

While racial tension at DeKalb High School has been a hot conversation topic, DHS students find the school’s cleanliness is the real issue.

Last fall, a survey conducted by the Stearnes Group showed students felt the need for more respect for certain groups, including racial and sexual orientation groups. ..Respect problems aside, [DHS principal Lindsey] Hall said the survey showed the high school has a bigger issue.

“The item that came out as the biggest problem is that the school is not clean,” Hall said.

Think about how bad it’s got to be if the teenagers are noticing it–and “not clean” may be an understatement. A DHS student who lives in my neighborhood has told me about mold in the band room and rickety stairs. Seems to me that if they can cough up $100k for more personnel, it should go toward maintenance staff and repairs.

Road Impact Fees & Accountability

This is the second of two guest blog articles this week by Mac McIntyre. The most involved of the Smart Growth-DeKalb participants–affectionately tagged (by me) as the Internet Research Commandos–discovered McIntyre’s work last fall when we began attending city meetings and researching logistics issues. We’ve been reading his “Rants & Raves” column at DeKalb County Online ever since.

My question: Will you elaborate on your objections to the road impact fee, & tell me what you believe should happen instead?

My main objection to all impact fees is the devastating effect they have had on affordable workforce housing. The Chicago Metropolis 2020 report, coordinated by the Suburban Mayors Caucus, reports that impact fees are the single largest obstacle in the way of affordable housing.
Continue reading Road Impact Fees & Accountability