Chief Lowery doesn’t want you at meetings if you don’t have anything nice to say

DeKalb’s police chief, Eugene Lowery, is so very, very tired of your negativity. Here’s what he said at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting of council. I want you to hear everyone’s voice. Not the voices of the few that walk up to this podium, and day in and day out, or week in and…

Why I’m alleging DeKalb violated the Open Meetings Act yesterday

During a special meeting of the city council yesterday, I alleged that City of DeKalb had not given sufficient notice of the meeting, in that DeKalb did not explicitly name a location for it. The city maintains that it gave sufficient notice because the agenda was printed on city letterhead, which includes the address of…

Freedom of Speech starts at home

It’s not just DeKalb’s mayor who’s having trouble with the Open Meetings Act lately. The Edgar County Watchdogs report that the president of the Village of Wheeling recently used police officers to stop a citizen who wanted to address public comments to one particular public official instead of the whole board. The focus of this…

Mayor Jerry Smith is mischaracterizing my comments

At the end of the August 28 city council meeting, DeKalb mayor Jerry Smith pushed back against public criticism of staff members, threatening to cut comments off with his gavel if he feels “personal attacks are being made.” There are three of us who have used the forum of public meetings to criticize the city’s…

Mayor Smith runs from Freedom of Information right smack into the First Amendment

I went to a special city council meeting last night, where I noted two odd occurrences. First off, Aaron Stevens attended. Stevens is DeKalb’s Freedom of Information Act officer, but there was nothing on the agenda about FOIA. The second weird thing was the attentiveness of council members. Gone were the usual tablet-tapping movements and…

Here are statutory provisions applicable to severance of an NIU president

…and I’m not altogether sure all of them were followed. Chapter 110 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) is the Chapter that governs higher education. You can see how it is organized here, that it has general provisions and then provisions specific to the Board of Higher Education, each public university, community colleges, and student…

This Election, Let’s Discuss Remedial Action for DeKalb

The Chronicle has published a letter to the editor that caught my eye. It’s about local candidates and their positions on the issues. The words that they use may change, but the rhetoric is the same. The writer goes on to list the same old, same old: DeKalb-NIU relations, easing of the tax burden, and…

DeKalb Tried to Hide Settlement Agreement with Former Community Development Director

Last year, City of DeKalb got caught violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) in approving a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. There were actually two violations, but the one we are concerned with here is DeKalb city council’s failure to take its final vote on the matter in a public session…

DeKalb City Manager’s Office Tried to Keep ‘STEAM Team’ Under Wraps

City staff are proposing to spend $400,000 in 2017 for a STEAM learning center — and that’s just for the architectural service called “building analysis.” The city is already spending $75,000 on a consulting firm, and council has been spending time in closed sessions to discuss the purchase or lease of property. This is an…

Questions Regarding Custody of City Seal & Handling of Documents

DeKalb city clerk Jenny Johnson does not know where the official seal of the city is located, or whether it is secure. We found this out last Saturday, when she held a meeting to inform citizens of her current role, and to gather information about what we envision for the future. A dozen citizens attended,…