Water Authority Alternative

Think that the Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority is our last best chance to protect our local water supply? Wrong-o. In July 2006, the Illinois General Assembly changed Public Act 094-1007. Here is a snippet of the Act, straight from the General Assembly website and including the changes that took effect in January:

Section 5. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Act is amended by changing Section 3.1 as follows:

(5 ILCS 220/3.1) (from Ch. 127, par. 743.1)
Sec. 3.1. Municipal Joint Action Water Agency.
(a) Any municipality or municipalities of this State, any county or counties of this State, any township in a county with a population under 700,000 of this State, any public water district or districts of this State, State university, or any combination thereof may, by intergovernmental agreement, establish a Municipal Joint Action Water Agency to provide adequate supplies of water on an economical and efficient basis for member municipalities, public water districts and other incorporated and unincorporated areas within such counties. For purposes of this Act, the water supply may only be derived from Lake Michigan, the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, or the Sangamon River Valley Alluvium. Any such Agency shall itself be a municipal corporation, public body politic and corporate. A Municipal Joint Action Water Agency so created shall not itself have taxing power except as hereinafter provided.

The language that limited application of the Act to users of Lake Michigan and certain rivers has been struck. Furthermore, an MJAWA obtains financing only through revenue bonds or notes unless voters pass a referendum to allow for the issuance of general obligation bonds.

Let’s see:

  • Management of water supply. Check.
  • No new government. Check.
  • No new taxes. Check.
  • Continue reading Water Authority Alternative

    Water: Fight, or Just Fix It

    Recently I’ve been writing about the April referendum that asks whether most of DeKalb, Boone and McHenry counties should form the Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority (KVWA). “Water Law Needs Overhaul” looks at current applications of the Illinois Water Authorities Act and implications for KVWA; and “Care & Feeding of Aquifers” explores groundwater issues discussed recently by a panel hosted by DeKalb County’s Planning & Zoning Commission. Dr. Jack Wittman, a hydrologist and president of a drought-planning company, was there and has now clarified his views in the Midweek, our local weekly paper.

    Wittman is based in Indiana but grew up around here. He seems to be interested both as a professional and as a former neighbor. As  described in the “aquifer” article, as part of the panel he was reluctant to stray from the elements of planning to get into the politics. This is not so in his Midweek op-ed piece.

    It is my opinion that the proposed Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority is a certain formula for a [sic] jurisdictional fights that will continue for the next 50 years. With the possibilities of drought and the certainties of regional growth, DeKalb County should dodge the fight and deal with the problem. The way to gets things done is to roll up your sleeves and figure it out. Simple, straight, common sense.

    Continue reading Water: Fight, or Just Fix It

    Care & Feeding of Aquifers

    Dr. Jack Wittman, hydrologist and drought planner, says that you start tackling water supply issues by answering a couple of simple questions:

  • How much water do we need?
  • How much water do we have?
  • It’s an exercise in budgeting, really, yet we have not answered these questions–and we have the water authority referendum (covering most of DeKalb, Boone and McHenry counties) to vote on next month. Is the Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority (KVWA) the right way to respond to planning and management needs? In order to make a recommendation one way or the other to the DeKalb County Board, its Planning & Zoning Committee last night hosted an informational panel on water supply issues that included Dr. Wittman along with Dr. Colin Booth, a hydrogeologist from NIU.

    Dr. Wittman didn’t delve far into the actual water authority question except to suggest that he’s seen good resource management done at the county level of government and he supports some sort of regional planning as well. Dr. Booth, impeccably academic, would not touch politics at all. Two attorneys on the panel and a few agenda-toting audience members provided advocacy for both sides. However, the stars of the two-hours-plus discussion definitely were the scientists with their educational presentations. Following are some of the issues brought out that should be factored into further deliberations. Continue reading Care & Feeding of Aquifers

    No Race in DeKalb’s 5th Ward

    Gavin Wilson’s candidacy is dead. Running for alderman of the 5th Ward, he was denied a place on the ballot because his petitions lacked the words “Consolidated” and “April 17,” the name and date of the election. The result is that two of the four wards up for grabs now in DeKalb, the 5th and the 7th, do not have competitive aldermanic races (only one person filed in the 7th, which is one of two NIU student-dominated wards).

    Wilson blames two-thirds of the local election board, comprised of the mayor, city clerk and the 3rd Ward alderman (who voted in Wilson’s favor) for supporting perfect paperwork over competitive races. He’s got a point but the real culprits here are the cumbersome Illinois candidacy requirements and the shameless way they can be exploited by an experienced opposition, especially an incumbent candidate. Continue reading No Race in DeKalb’s 5th Ward

    Water Law Needs Overhaul

    A group from McHenry County, the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water (A-LAW) is trying to get a referendum on the April ballot that would establish a water authority in rural areas of Boone, DeKalb and (most of) McHenry county. Court hearings currently are being held in DeKalb County to determine the boundaries of the proposed authority.

    The proposal has caused a huge uproar among municipal governments (see here, here and here for examples).

    Several officials have called the proposal “scary.” Here’s why. The Kishwaukee Valley Water Authority (KVWA) would consist of only three persons, one appointed by each county board. But this very small number of unelected trustees would have the power to permit or not permit any well that serves more than four families, annex territory, collect taxes as a special district, even exercise rights of eminent domain and sell water to whomever they want.

    These powers are conferred by the Illinois Water Authorities Act of 1951 (ILCS 3715). Supporters of the proposal point out that the Act provides a mechanism for transforming these appointed positions into elected ones. But while it only takes 500 voter signatures to get the original proposal for an authority on the ballot, it takes 10% of the voters in an established authority to sign a petition for an election proposition. In other words, thousands of signers would be be required for that step.

    At 55 years old, the Act is clearly not set up to fit the newer trend toward regional planning. Continue reading Water Law Needs Overhaul

    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

    hastert Looks the Other Way Again

    Hastert Looks Away For A Price

    Dennis Hastert was caught looking the other way recently with the Foley scandal. However looking the other way from those who are being abused for the sake of the abusers and their power is not uncommon for Mr. Hastert. This last episode is just a time when he was caught doing so, because he has often put protecting political power above his duty to protect children.

    Take for example the May 24, 1999 ABC News program 20/20 and a report by Brian Ross. His report was on human trafficking on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory and the protection of the abusers by the Republican Leadership in Congress. Brian Ross reported on the findings of a human rights activist group, Global Survival Network, from the American island of Saipan.

    Thousands of women from across Aisa were brought through an immigration loophole to American soil to supposedly work as waitresses in restaurants or nightclubs. “Once they got there, they were told they had to do more than that.” said Steve Galster, Executive Director of Global Survival Network. He went on to say, “We’re talking about forced prostitution.” Continue reading hastert Looks the Other Way Again

    Hastert Where Are You?

    Once again residents of the 14th district try to speake to J. Dennis Hastert their absentee representative. This week he is in Arizona and southern California raising money for other Republicans. Some fools are paying a $1,000 just to have their pictures taken with him.
    Yet right here in his own districts constituents without checkbooks in their hands are ignored.

    He thinks he has this election sewed- up. However there are many grassroot groups working to bring him down. From peace groups to immigrant rights groups, etc coupled with being investigated by the FBI, and other federal investigators for the Turkish FBI tape scandal, his ties with Abramoff, his other ties to lobbyists, and his unethical land deals, this November there is going to be a shock wave come out of the 14th district that is going to catch the national media flat footed again, as John Lasesch pulls the upset of the decade, maybe of the century. Continue reading Hastert Where Are You?

    Bob Pritchard & Fundraising

    State Rep. Bob Pritchard is the incumbent this fall and fair game for scrutiny. However, this is not really about him so much as it is about the general need for campaign finance reform in Illinois.

    From a Daily Chronicle report on the defeated May 2004 IL House legislation to ban horse slaughter in the state:

    Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, opposed the ban on horse slaughter and said it failed because fellow lawmakers realized it would be unconstitutional and a threat to the agricultural industry. He also said the ban would have had a negative effect on the DeKalb County economy. Cavel is slated to employ about 40 people.

    “This is about jobs,” Pritchard said in a statement. “The defeat of this bill today is a victory for employment in our community, for broadening our local tax base and helping our school districts. It’s an economic shot in the arm.”

    According to the the Illinois State Board of Elections, DeKalb’s horse slaughterhouse has also been an economic shot in the arm for Rep. Pritchard:

    Cavel International Inc. 108 Harvestore
    DeKalb, IL 60115 $500.00
    12/22/2003 Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Pritchard

    Cavel International Inc. 108 Harvestore
    DeKalb, IL 60115 $300.00
    10/12/2004 Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Pritchard

    Cavel International Inc. 106 Havestore Drive
    DeKalb, IL 60115 $1,000.00
    6/25/2005 Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Pritchard

    In an earlier disclosure, I find that attorney Brett Brown contributed $350.00 to Pritchard’s PAC. Brown has represented Cavel.

    I won’t be snide. I’m gonna say right out that I would better have trusted the motivation for Pritchard’s vote if his PAC hadn’t accepted money from Cavel and company.

    Another thing that bothers me is when candidates get a lot of money from outside their constituencies. Continue reading Bob Pritchard & Fundraising

    Mr. Speaker Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?

    Our 14th District Representative and Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert, must think his constituents are asleep or fools.

    On March 14th he accepts a $5,000 campaign contribution from Exxon. Then on April 26th, the Washington Post reported Mr. Hastert was leading the GOP congress in blocking legislation that would have raised the taxes on the oil companies’ huge profits. On April 27th Congress Daily reported that Speaker Hastert was one of the Top Ten recipients of campaign contributions from oil companies. So far in the 2005-2006 election cycle the FEC reports that Hastert has received a total of $92,000 from oil and gas corporations.

    Next on April 28th he tried to cover his backroom actions with a public news conference in front of a Washington gas station with plenty of photographers he tried to convince America that the House of Representatives were going to get tough on those gasoline companies and set aside money for alternatives to gasoline. To dispell any doubters he then drove off in a hydrogen powered car, only to stop a few blocks away from the cameras to get out of the hydrogen car and climb into his GMC SUV, according to an AP photograph.

    And if we weren’t already feeling insulted enough by his blatant disregard for our intelligence a few days later on May 3rd he held a closed door meeting with the biggest profiteer of them all-Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson. Maybe with the next FEC quarterly report we’ll see how big his payoff was from Exxon.

    This has to be the year we stop Hastert. Enough is enough.