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.

The Vehicle Maintenance & Acquisition Fund That Isn’t

In “Council in the Twilight Zone,” I lauded 7th Ward Alderman Monica O’Leary for questioning this part of the July 11 meeting agenda:

The Police Department was awarded a Grant through the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority Board (ICJIA) to purchase a replacement for the Police Shift Command Vehicle. The award amount is $20,000 and the city is required to provide the remaining funds. The Police Departments portion will be taken from the Vehicle Maintenance and Acquisition Fund.

Ms. O’Leary said she couldn’t find this fund in the budget, and with good reason: It doesn’t exist.

There’s a Q&A about the fund/vehicle funding after the jump. Continue reading The Vehicle Maintenance & Acquisition Fund That Isn’t

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

City Must Reveal Aldermanic Appointee Applications

It’s Chicago we’re talking about, but it bodes well for the very similar DeKalb Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by our local dailies, does it not?

March 5, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — The Illinois Attorney General’s office says the Mayor’s office must turn over job applications for the two vacant Alderman positions.

The city had tried to keep the information secret. Late this afternoon, the AG’s public access counselor, Cara Smith, ruled that the public should have access to information about the application process. Continue reading City Must Reveal Aldermanic Appointee Applications

Advice & Consent

From Chapter 2 of the DeKalb Municipal Code (PDF p. 2):

a) Pursuant to Article VII, Section 6 (f) of the Constitution of the State of Illinois (1970) and a Referendum Election held pursuant to Illinois Compiled Statutes, (65 ILCS 5/28-4), when vacancies in the office of alderman are occasioned by reason of resignation, failure to elect or qualify, death, permanent physical or mental disability, conviction of a disqualifying crime, abandonment of office or removal from office or of residency from ward, the City Council shall call a special election to fill said vacancy if at the occurrence of said vacancy, the unexpired term was more than eighteen (18) months in length; and if the unexpired term is eighteen (18) months or less in length, the Mayor may, with the advice and consent of the City Council, appoint a person to serve as alderman in the vacancy until the next general election.

By contacting the remaining aldermen to build a pre-meeting consensus, the mayor cheated us out of hearing and responding to the advice of Council members in the matter of the Third Ward aldermanic appointment. He is set to do so again in the case of the newly-vacated Seventh Ward. Continue reading Advice & Consent