Anatomy of a Referendum Campaign Begun by an Aurora Nonprofit

**Update 12/24 on the hearing: Kane County Chronicle reports that a decision on the campaign disclosure complaint against Show You Care Kane is not expected until next year.**

What would you say if Kish Health Systems were to send its chief executive to open and fund a political action committee (PAC) in order to promote passage of a referendum for a special property tax levy to fund its services?

That is NOT happening here, but a similar scenario IS shaping up for real in Kane County.

About a year ago, The Association for Individual Development (AID) in Aurora sent its president/CEO to head up a PAC called Show You Care Kane (SYCK). The stated purpose of the PAC is to “help children and adults with developmental disabilities” and The Chicago Tribune described some specifics in October:

Kane County voters could see a tax increase request on next spring’s ballot that would generate about $12 million annually for services for the developmentally disabled.

The proposal would tax property at 0.1 percent of its assessed value, and the money would be distributed by a disability board, made up of people from throughout the county, that would hire agencies to support independent living, jobs, therapy, transportation and supportive care for those with development (sic) disabilities.

Here’s what the Trib didn’t mention:

–AID has a $20 million annual operating budget and serves up to 5,000 clients each year. It would probably qualify for a big chunk of that $12 million considering there’s little competition within the county when it comes to DD adult services.

Show You Care Kane is funded either exclusively or very near exclusively by AID.

–SYCK used $73,000 of a $76,000 contribution from AID to pay a professional company to collect the number of signatures needed to place the referendum question on the ballot.

If I hadn’t dug up these things, I’d be inclined to treat the “disability tax” effort as grassroots. All I smell so far is artificial turf.

Yet, for all of its synthetic sophistication, SYCK will appear before the State Board of Elections tomorrow on a complaint that it did not properly report contributions to its PAC on two occasions. Continue reading Anatomy of a Referendum Campaign Begun by an Aurora Nonprofit

Geneva’s Pure Oil Building

Time is running out to sign the online petition to save the historic Pure Oil Building in Geneva that houses the PURE Gardner gardening shop which is here:

The Geneva City Council will discuss it on Monday night’s agenda. The Kane County Chronicle has an article here:

The Switch

The City of DeKalb claimed that the hiring of Laura Pisarcik fulfilled recommendations made by Executive Partners, Inc. (EPI). This is what the EPI report recommended:

DeKalb would benefit from a proactive centralized procurement program. [p. 19 of Benchmarking section]

Definition of procurement, from Wikipedia:

Procurement is the acquisition of goods and/or services. It is favorable that the goods/services are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the purchaser in terms of quality and quantity, time, and location. Corporations and public bodies often define processes intended to promote fair and open competition for their business while minimizing exposure to fraud and collusion.

This is what we got:

[The Finance Director] [a]dvises the City Manager on the availability of revenues and the allocation of expenditures within those revenues; assists the City Manager in preparing a balanced budget for recommendation to the City Council; and, manages the City’s accounting, treasury, receivables, payables, parking, payroll, reception, and utility billing functions. The division’s goal is to provide the citizens of DeKalb with a comprehensive and uniform financial management system that conforms with financial standards set forth by such organizations as the Government Finance Officer’s Association and the Government Accounting Standards Board.

Laura Pisarcik, then, is no procurement person but just another assistant city manager. We’ve been had. Continue reading The Switch

Overextended in Hampshire Via SSA

[Update 9/3: SSA bond owners have agreed to the buy-back plan.]

Courier News item, my emphasis:

HAMPSHIRE — Whether Crown Community Development will continue with plans to build 2,833 homes in three Hampshire developments, potentially tripling the village’s population, may depend on what six Wall Street firms decide between now and 5 p.m. Wednesday.

That’s the new deadline set for a bond sale that would reduce Crown’s yearly financing costs by millions of dollars per year, but would leave the bond holders with only about a third as much money as the face value of their bonds. The $75 million worth of bonds were sold in 2007 to raise money to build roads, expand wastewater and water treatment plants, and other infrastructure improvements to serve the planned Prairie Ridge, Oakstead and Tamms Farm subdivisions.

The bonds are being paid off over 30 to 40 years with money collected by a Special Service Area tax against each piece of land in the subdivisions. But so far, Crown has sold only 46 lots, and only three of those have had houses built on them. So Crown itself, rather than homeowners, has been paying the yearly SSA taxes.

Here we have, imo, yet another example of a financing mechanism that started out as a good idea but got warped by Illinois’ penchant for “work-arounds.” Continue reading Overextended in Hampshire Via SSA

Calling Fowl in Batavia

The Daily Herald reports that the City of Batavia’s Community Development Committee is researching the possibility of allowing residents to house chickens.

This Kane County development seems kind of fitting in view of Garfield Farm’s efforts to save the Black Java breed.

I’ve done some homework on keeping chickens in the city, and I know city slickers who raise chickens (not in DeKalb, though). It is legal in cities and towns across the country. What happens in your neighborhood depends mainly on whether your neighbor is conscientious, just as it does with dogs. Given a properly staffed code enforcement division and the right ordinance, I could maybe get behind a few coops in DeKalb.