Barb City Action Committee & TIF

There are honest people of good faith who belong to the Barb City Action Committee. There really are.

However, it makes good sense to try to tease out the motives for any organized political action, especially one that launched itself out of nowhere and appears to have “shadow” members as well.

Recently I donned my thinking cap, closed my eyes, and envisioned a pack of jackals snarling at each other over the remnants of a carcass. This is the image that occurs whenever I think about TIF projects being pushed for approval by the DeKalb city council as the TIF districts approach expiration.

I think I’m onto something. Continue reading Barb City Action Committee & TIF

DeKalb Candidates’ Websites

Here are the websites I’ve collected so far for the candidates running for City of DeKalb offices and District 428 school board positions. Election Day is April 4 (not counting all of your early voting opportunities).

DeKalb Mayor:

Michael Embrey: Embrey for Mayor

Misty Haji-Sheikh: Citizens for Misty

Jerry Smith: Jerry for DeKalb

DeKalb City Council

Michael “Max” Maxwell, 6th Ward: Max for 6th

Mike Verbic, 6th Ward: Verbic for DeKalb

District 428 Board

Scott Campbell: Fix 428

Valeria Pena-Hernandez: Unify 428

Not a Trained Seal

It has come to my attention that I am being misrepresented as playing a role in a local political campaign.

I am not working for any candidate. No one has solicited my support. As of today, nobody’s even asked for my vote.

Don’t get me wrong. Every once in a while, a bright light manages to penetrate the slimy murk that comprises DeKalb politics. I’ve supported candidates in the past (and surely will again) and I reserve the right to endorse people at any time.

But so far, I’ve done neither.

What Kind of Municipal Elections Does City of DeKalb Have?

City of DeKalb candidates for municipal offices in the spring elections are not all using the same ballot petition forms.

For example, of the four mayoral candidates, three of them are filing as “independents” and one of them filed a “nonpartisan” form. A similar pattern has occurred with the aldermanic candidates.

There are differences. “Independent” signals that a municipality has partisan elections, but the independent candidate has decided on the independent label instead of a party label, and the independent can’t “get primaried” like the party animals can. “Nonpartisan” means there’s always just one election, no primaries, and nobody in it has a formal association at all.

Nobody ever “gets primaried” in DeKalb. Does that mean DeKalb has nonpartisan elections? Continue reading What Kind of Municipal Elections Does City of DeKalb Have?

Balancing a Budget through Neglect of Neighborhoods

In “Mayor’s View: DeKalb in Solid Financial Shape for 2017,” John Rey is claiming that DeKalb is in fine financial shape.

This will be his campaign refrain, but it’s nonsense. DeKalb has been spending more than it’s been taking in, the steep rise in spending is primarily due to over-staffing, and the foremost casualty is infrastructure such as street maintenance. It’s the same pattern as for 2010-11, only worse.

[easychart type=”line” width=”420″ title=”Capital Project Expenditures in Millions” groupnames=”Capital Funds, MFT for Streets, Total Cap Plus MFT” valuenames=”06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17″ group1values=”3.4, 2.0, 1.8, 1.8, .6, 1, 1.3, 2.2, 1.3, 1, .9, .9″ group2values=”1.9, .9, 1.5, .9, 1.2, .3, .2, .4, .9, .4, 0, 0″ group3values=”5.3, 2.9, 3.3, 2.7, 1.8, 1.3, 1.5, 2.6, 2.2, 1.4, .9, .9″ minaxis=”.8″]

The first category reflects expenditures from Capital Projects, Fleet Fund, and Equipment Fund; some years Fleet and Equipment are separate, other years they are combined with/in Capital Projects. The second category includes expenditures out of two accounts in the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) Fund that have to do with street maintenance and construction. (Other accounts in this fund, such as one for road salt, are more operationally related and therefore not included.) The third category combines the first two expenditure categories so you can see how close to the bottom of the barrel we are.

As projected, the coming year’s capital expenditures will reach their lowest point in at least a dozen years.

Related: DeKalb’s $10 Million Budget Hole

Illinois Statutes Versus DeKalb Municipal Code in the Matter of the City Clerk

Just yesterday, we were comparing the positions of city clerk as practiced in Sycamore and DeKalb.

You can see from that post that Sycamore and DeKalb treat their city clerks very differently, though this was not true in the past.

To continue the comparison: Sycamore’s municipal code follows the applicable Illinois statutes, while DeKalb’s differs from state law in several ways.

To show this, I’m bringing back a table I published in April that describes how DeKalb’s municipal code differs from Illinois statutes in four important ways. DeKalb began deviating from the statutes following the resignation of clerk Steve Kapitan in 2012. Continue reading Illinois Statutes Versus DeKalb Municipal Code in the Matter of the City Clerk

Sycamore Versus DeKalb: Comparison of City Clerks

Once upon a time, City of Sycamore and City of DeKalb had duly elected, full-time city clerks. Sycamore still has one. DeKalb’s, however, was destroyed in 2013. Low compensation and transfer of powers to the city manager’s office have deprived us of elected clerks and clerk candidates ever since.

Whatever the city thought it was doing when it allowed this state of affairs, the reality is that DeKalb residents may soon be facing their third election in which zero candidates for clerk appear on the ballot. Continue reading Sycamore Versus DeKalb: Comparison of City Clerks

No, Daily Chronicle. The DeKalb City Clerk has Not Received a Raise

The compensation ordinance that will apply to our next city clerk has NOT received final approval. So there is no, or at least not yet, a “hefty raise” for the clerk as claimed by the newspaper today. It was only first reading. They only reveal this fact in the final sentence of the article.

The issue is scheduled to come back before the City Council for final consideration Oct. 24.

Until then, all compensation numbers are placeholders, and a lot could conceivably happen between now and then.

The mayor’s compensation is $22,500 and is not expected to change. The clerk’s compensation is $5,000. The proposed rise in compensation for the clerk is only up to $8,000.

What SHOULD happen is that council members, at the very least, take a look at how the office of the mayor and the office of the city clerk are the same. The mayor’s position is an elected, citywide, officially part-time position with statutory powers. The city clerk is an elected, citywide, officially part-time position with statutory powers. They have to get the same number of signatures to get on the ballot. They go to the same meetings and they sign the same documents. Continue reading No, Daily Chronicle. The DeKalb City Clerk has Not Received a Raise

Council on Track to Deprive Us of Another Election

On Monday, the city council discussed the compensation ordinance that will go into effect upon installation of the city’s elected officers in May. This was just the first reading. Passage is expected during the regular council meeting on October 25.

Council at this point is on track to continue to deprive us of another election for city clerk. This body plans to pay the next mayor $22,500 per year, the next clerk $8,000.

Members seem intent on keeping the clerk a part-time position, based on a vague notion of protecting themselves from “liability,” which we know does not exist because the city has never gotten into trouble for violations of open meetings and open records laws before or after they ruined the office of the clerk.

No, the reality is that the liability works the other way. You see, while council has lots of leeway when it comes to assigning duties and setting compensation, any ordinance that passes must be reasonable. And we know that DeKalb ordinances having to do with the clerk are demonstrably unreasonable because they’ve interfered with elections of the clerk. Continue reading Council on Track to Deprive Us of Another Election