We could strengthen open meetings laws by plugging the ‘walking quorum’ loophole

I decided to find out more about Sycamore’s new city manager (who comes to us from Wisconsin) and ended up adding to my vocabulary. A ‘walking quorum’ is a series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in…

DeKalb planning to ignore existing policies to sideline the clerk’s office once again

City council will take up a proposal tomorrow to appoint the executive assistant as permanent recorder of the meeting minutes. They can’t bar the city clerk from attending meetings and taking minutes, so here’s what they’ve come up with: The follow-on ordinance…will not prevent the Clerk from taking minutes and presenting them, but the Council…

A look back: DeKalb and its radium water

25 years ago, residents of DeKalb organized to pressure the city to reduce the amount of radium in our drinking water. The city, which already had obtained a variance that allowed it to exceed EPA limits for radium, required a second variance in 1996 to obtain permits to extend water mains for new construction. This…

Defendants added to the 145 Fisk lawsuit against Nicklas and City of DeKalb

New defendants were added last week to the “145 Fisk” lawsuit against city manager Bill Nicklas and City of DeKalb that could potentially cost the city millions if it loses. John F. Pappas, Pappas Development, LLC, and PNG Development, LLC — collectively named “Pappas Entities” in the court order — were previously named as respondents…

Public officials’ ill-advised campaign contributions

We’ve talked about ethics issues and Bill Nicklas before, in the context of his outside employment, which — shamefully — the city council has so far failed to address. Now we see Mr. Nicklas, DeKalb city manager since the beginning of 2019, has been making political contributions to Illinois Representative Jeff Keicher. (“Report Received Date”…

How red do the flags have to be?

The DeKalb city council recently received and filed its fiscal 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) along with the auditor’s letters and communications to council and management. Although the audit was problematic, the council did not talk about the issues, so we will do it here. First, to summarize: The auditor detected material misstatements in…

Taking away the city clerk’s role in checks and balances

Jumping off my last post and recent discussion of it, I want to share a little more of the context in which I currently attempt to function as city clerk in DeKalb. This time last year, I signed and sealed some contracts and all plats, ordinances, resolutions, and licenses. Hundreds of documents crossed my desk…

As DeKalb city clerk, I feel like a punching bag

***Update: Find discussion and comments in our Facebook group .*** When I read the other day the Daily Chronicle is still calling it a “rift” in describing what’s going on between the city manager’s office and me as city clerk, I realized I have to say more than I have before. It’s no longer a…

Five reasons to slow down expansion plans for DeKalb’s in-house administrative hearings

There’s city council support for a Committee of the Whole meeting to air issues with the city attorney’s project to expand the types of ordinance violations the city will hear in-house. I think the CoW is going to happen, and I’ll keep you posted. If so, it’s an excellent development, and shows council’s responsiveness to…