State of the Blog

Hello there.

I’m one of the new mods/writers for the City Barbs Blog selected to fill in for Lynn Fazekas after she took the office of City Clerk. While some readers already know me, I thought it would be best to introduce myself.

So, firstly, I’m an NIU alum who majored in computer science. Yes, sadly I didn’t major in journalism. But if it makes you feel any better, I once pursued an associate degree in philosophy before I realized that it wasn’t going to make me money any time soon. On the plus side, there is likely to be data in posts of mine if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ve written several letters to the editor and attended/watched some city council meetings in the past. Lynn would tell you she picked me because of my commitment to the truth, but I’m doing this because I’m easily bribed with food (just kidding, sorta). What else? I’m an Air Force veteran where I worked in metrology; I have interests in the 1st Amendment, OMA, FOIA, local history, and education; and I used to catch plagiarism in computer programming courses for a living when I worked as a teaching assistant, so I can pay quite a bit attention to detail.

I’ve been conversing with Lynn and Bessie over the past few weeks to get an understanding of the forum rules, the origins and the role of the blog, current issues, etc. while we transition the responsibility of running this gig. Please forgive us for any delays as Bessie is still learning how to use the newfangled Facebook thing, and I’ve been somewhat apprehensive to act independently and make snap judgments. We appreciate your patience while we try to get things settled, and I can assure that all of us have the same desire to maintain a forum of political discussion where everyone feels welcome to participate. We do have some posts planned for this month but let us know if there’s anything you’d like us to focus on.

I also want to say something about the State of the City Address held last week. I had planned to attend and had taken the day off from work, but I was turned away because they didn’t have a card reader at the door. While it has been pointed out that the address was recorded and posted online, the event itself was nevertheless one of breaking bread and a mingling of minds. There was more there than the statements of a couple government officials, there were conversations – ones of not just economic importance but social and cultural as well. As a citizen journalist who wishes to be informed of matters so that I might in turn better facilitate discussion, I am now less able to do so. And considering the relatively steep price of the event and the fact that this was done prior to the official State of the City Address, the impression given (hopefully inadvertently) is that the interests of the community at large are less of a priority than solely business interests. In the future, the City should make every effort to avoid barriers which prevent all members of the public from listening and contributing to such conversations, and if it wishes to continue holding these events with the Chamber of Commerce, then I would recommend hosting it in the commons to avoid even the semblance of impropriety.

City Barbs Turned 8 this Month

That’s probably, what, 24 in blog years?

The actual anniversary date was November 6 but I’ve been distracted by other business. Luckily it’s Friday so I can hoist one to celebrate Joe’s creation and the work of the original Internet Research Commandos. Hope you will, too.

I’ve also cleaned house a bit. (Yes, sadly, that’s my current idea of a good time.) Among other things I’ve developed a Policies page and have eliminated links to blogs that haven’t provided new content for a year or more.

If you have a blog you’d like to link under Local Voices or you’d like to blog here, use the contact form below. Continue reading City Barbs Turned 8 this Month

Miscellaneous Municipal Election News, Site News

First off, I want to follow up on the question of repealing home rule in Mt. Vernon. Voters defeated the challenge, meaning home rule is retained. High profile business backers, a core group of “Vote No” volunteers plus use of social media are credited with the success.

While the Mt. Vernon pro-home rule group won with 57% of the vote, there was a veritable smackdown by 70% of voters of the proposition to make the city clerk’s office in DeKalb an appointed one. It’s difficult not to look at this as a referendum on city administration, and on the performance of city manager Mark Biernacki in particular. Let him laugh at the suggestion that the ballot question was an attempted power grab — that doesn’t make it untrue.

With the retention of an elected city clerk, congenitally optimistic residents like me can hope for a real watchdog in the position.

Lastly, I’d like to note that City Barbs is now seven years old.

Treat this as an open thread if you like. Name yer topic.

Posts Temporarily Pulled

Two popular recent posts, “DeKalb’s Pension Funding Progress” and “Updated Year-Over-Year Revenue Tracking” have been pulled from the lineup because they’ve been messing up a blog feed. Once I figure out the problem and fix it, I’ll republish them.

Statement of Non-Retraction of District 428 Utilities Post

A certain person has suggested I “correct” my posting called Sampling of Electric Bills, Old DHS and New, on the grounds that I got it wrong about why District 428 can’t pay its bills.

On the contrary, no correction is needed. Due to the small sample size and obvious adjustments made to one of the bills, I took pains NOT TO come to any conclusions.

No, the figures for the June charges and balance due for the new DHS were not accidentally transposed! There were significant downward adjustments made on that bill.

That is one reason why I am making no claims about the bill charges being particularly representative.

Yes, I did also say that I found the unpaid balances startling, but AGAIN: I drew no conclusion from it.

If this person were a member in good standing of the City Barbs community, I would invite him to post the ADDITIONAL information he’s found. Unfortunately, he was banned for life years ago and this kind of thing reinforces the decision.

Site News: We’re Six

Oops, I missed City Barbs’ anniversary! We turned six on November 6.

Though it’s usually my name on the byline, this is more a community blog than most ever realize. Thanks to those who have mentored, visited, contributed articles, commented, phoned with tips and e-mailed suggestions.

Thanks also to site founder Joe and to my husband, who gave me a nudge at the right moment.

And to Mac McIntyre, who always has advice when I ask for it (and sometimes when I don’t).

This is post number 905.

Interesting Search Terms

Here are a few of the search terms people have used recently that led them to the citybarbs blog. Thought you might enjoy.

“hunted houses”

“universal rest group dekalb”

“i lost minutes for a meeting”

“1971, that was a bad year for libraries”

“pig poop is black”

People also wanted to see firefighters saving cats, find out which non-home ruled municipality uses hotel tax to pay police salaries (so do I, now) and seek mybigblackbuddy.com.

Each month, visitors also still come to read about Henry Ford’s soybean suit and the loss of Milan Krpan.