Northern Star Fighting for 3rd Ward Names

The Northern Star has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the names of the persons considered by the mayor for the vacated Third Ward alderman spot.

With the questionable past of the 3rd Ward, it is interesting to see that the city has decided to withhold this information from the public, since an aldermanic position is in fact a public position. On Jan. 25, DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen appointed Pam Verbic, a long-time 3rd Ward resident, to the position that had been vacant since Victor Wogen resigned on Dec. 14, 2009. Congratulations to Mrs. Verbic.

The Star, however, is still wondering why the other nine applicants have not been announced, since it is a public position.

The Northern Star filed a Freedom of Information request for the names of the 10 applicants, and, in a letter addressed to the Northern Star, DeKalb City Clerk Steve Kapitan said “City Attorney Norma Guess asserts that this request [for the 10 names] be denied because it constitutes a clear unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

Let’s take a look at FOIA. Continue reading Northern Star Fighting for 3rd Ward Names

Free FOIA Seminar in DeKalb

NIU will host the first of about a dozen November seminars covering key changes to Illinois transparency laws on Monday, November 9, in the Holmes Student Center. The informational seminars, offered by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, are free and intended for both public officials and other residents who are interested in changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA) that will go into effect at the beginning of next year.

Monday’s seminar will run from 1-3 p.m. in the Sky Room on the 16th floor of the Holmes Student Center. Although it is free, registration is required because seating is limited.

For more information, e-mail or phone the Conference Registration Line at 1-866-376-7215.

The seminar does not take the place of required state training for FOIA and OMA officers of governmental units.

H/T B.F.

City: Breach of Contract? No problem!

Near the end of the Council meeting tonight, I argued against Re:New DeKalb’s getting another agreement with the City of DeKalb because of breach of contract. Re:New has not been turning in the documentation called for (which could then be accessed via the city through the Freedom of Information Act) nor has it been following the Open Meetings Act. I can verify this provision has been ignored for at least two years.

The mayor mumbled something about having Legal look into it, then called for a vote on the resolution with no further discussion. Re:New gets $45,000 of our money this year and follows whatever rules it wants to. Or none, I guess.

A lot of other business was conducted tonight, almost none of it good. Use this as your council meeting open thread if you like.

Lawlessness Complaint

Yesterday I mailed a complaint about City Council’s failures to adhere to the Open Meetings Act. It is on its way to the Illinois Attorney General, cc’d to the DeKalb County State’s Attorney.

I selected three violations occurring in May and June to include in the complaint, beginning with the decision to address the financial consultants’ (EPI) report after FY2010 budget approval. Continue reading Lawlessness Complaint

Lawlessness Letter

Sent this in last week and was told Monday it would be published in the Chronicle “in a couple days.”

DeKalb City Council passed a resolution June 22 authorizing the city manager to reduce the number of firefighters for Fiscal Year 2010 as a means to present a balanced budget to the community. Let me make it clear that I am no fan of the firefighter layoff option. However, a resolution is a directed plan of action, and the FY2010 budget ordinance—approved on the same day—depends on this plan of action.

Yet following a 45-minute closed session during a special meeting on June 29, Mayor Povlsen suddenly announced that the city was still in negotiation with the firefighters’ union. In short order, Council violated its own Resolution 09-41, (budget) Ordinance 09-34, and the Open Meetings Act, which prohibits decisions being made in closed session.

City government is becoming a law unto itself. Continue reading Lawlessness Letter