DeKalb playing favorites with the bandit in the castle

Cohen Barnes owns a building in downtown DeKalb under the name “The Bandit’s Castle, LLC.”

So he’s a bandit who bought a castle. Is this like the tv shows where the psychos leave little clues of their crimes? The imagination runs wild.

The thing with bandits is that, by definition, they belong to gangs. This is more or less what we saw last night, with City of DeKalb enabling Mr. Barnes to return to council to grab more TIF money since his rehab job on the Castle, for which he obtained a development incentive of $400,000 last spring, has hit a snag.

What’s the snag? Nobody anticipated that a 100-year-old building could have water damage and asbestos. No inspection was done, and no money for contingencies was set aside. It’s municipal malpractice, is what it is.

But due diligence doesn’t matter, because the city checkbook is simply always open for Mr. Barnes.

Many thanks go out to Aldermen David Jacobson and Mike Verbic, who voted against the double dipping. (Alderman Pat Fagan recused himself.)

Y’all folks in the Third, Fifth, and Seventh wards have a year to find replacements.

South 4th Water Main Project Got Weird before It Died

This is an item from the May 27 council meeting agenda that I’ve been meaning to address.

It’s about a water main project on South 4th Street.

This project would have abandoned a 6” water main on the west side of Route 23 (South Fourth Street) from Lacas Street south to approximately 110 feet south of Charter Street. There are approximately twenty services that would have been be disconnected from the 6” main on the west side of Route 23 and be reconnected to the 8” main on the east side.

The project was already coordinated with the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is planning to resurface Route 23. It does make sense to do the underground work first if possible.

However, at the May 27 council meeting the one proposal sent in was rejected. Continue reading South 4th Water Main Project Got Weird before It Died

Ellwood Historic Neighborhood Meetings

The following is a summary of documents obtained from the City of DeKalb involving a group from the 5th Ward, the City of DeKalb, and the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) at NIU.

The 5th Ward group was first called a “task force” although it has never been an official city committee. Now, the informal association is known as the Ellwood Historic District or Ellwood Historic Neighborhood.

[table id=17 /] Continue reading Ellwood Historic Neighborhood Meetings

Comments on Wednesday’s Aldermanic Forum

Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor seems very proud that the FY2011 budget is down $700,000 from FY2007.

I went through those budgets and counted more than 40 positions eliminated since FY2008 — but, assuming a little hiring has been done this past fiscal year, let’s say we’re down about three dozen.

There’s been virtually nothing spent on equipment, in fact personnel account for 89% of expenditures now, according to the FY2011 budget. And with the recent exception of fuel costs, commodities have been pretty stable for a couple years.

So: $700,000 is pretty measly in this context. Why hasn’t the budget been whittled down several million? Continue reading Comments on Wednesday’s Aldermanic Forum

Big Fat Correction

I am guilty of too much talk and not enough homework done this week.

There is indeed a scenario in which Alderman Ron Naylor paid the Ellwood House room rental for a 5th Ward meet-up, even when there’s a “RM RNTL 5TH WARD 1/19/10 MTG” note in the city’s check register. The scenario is more than one 5th Ward meeting having taken place. I mistook the 1/19 meeting for his “coffee,” and did so in error. I am sorry for the mistake.

Meeting Notes

First, the Hope Haven expansion vote. The good folks at HH have been raked over the coals for two months and it’s finally over. Many thanks to Mayor Povlsen and Aldermen Simpson, Teresinski and Verbic for their “aye” votes. Hat tip to Alderman Naylor for alluding to the double standard used for HH and the other residential project on the front burner — oh, and if you want to argue it’s apples and oranges, fine, but let’s DO have the argument.

Fourth Ward alderman Brendon Gallagher gets the “Let Them Eat Cake”/juxtaposition fail award for mentioning his country club hobnobbing during the annexation hearing and then vigorously rejecting a proposal that would help people down on their luck in his own ward. As for Alderman Kammes of the 7th, it’s a funny dang time for her to start responding to e-mail, but, whatev.

Much as I am clearly a cheerleader for Hope Haven, that matter overshadowed some serious financial news. Continue reading Meeting Notes