Do You Hear What I Hear?

It seems that City Clerk Donna Johnson has a problem hearing Mr. Wogen’s name anytime a citizen says it.

If you watch the City Council meetings and then read Ms. Johnson’s minutes of those meetings you may wonder if you were in the same room. Or at least when it comes to the public comments portion of the meeting.

Let me give a couple of examples. If you have been following the council meetings in person or by cable, you know that on May 14th Mr. Herb Rubin spoke about Mr. Wogen’s lying to the public. When the minutes came out the City Clerk (You recall the one hugging Mr. Wogen on election night after his big 13 vote victory. As shown on the front page of the Daily Chronicle.) chose to summarize Mr. Rubin’s comments this way:

“He had an issue with one newly-elected Alderman, who he said failed to tell the truth. He added trust is needed for government to function.”

I don’t know about you but I think if I were Mr. Simpson or Mr. Keller, the other two “newly-elected aldermen,” I’d be pretty upset that it is now public record that one of the three does not value the public’s trust.

Then if this were not proof enough of selective hearing or of censoring check this out. Ms. Kay Shelton, Mr. John Duerk, or Ms. Lynn Fazekas all made passionate and articulate comments on May 29th. They spoke eloquently from the heart and with conscience to the issue of Mr. Wogen’s unethical behavior. They said his name several times in the remarks and they were very specific with their concerns. All three spoke for their full alotted time and they all spoke from prepared statements. Here is how our City Clerk chose to summarize Ms. Shelton:

Ms. Kay Shelton expressed her opinion regarding the recent 3rd Ward election in which she was a losing candidate.”

That doesn’t begin to come close to the passionate comments I heard.

She also summarized Mr. Duerk’s well written statement to 8 words: “expressed his opinion regarding the recent 3rd Ward election.”

Lynn Fazekas’ words were summarized the same way. Ms. Johnson didn’t even say whether the opinions were positive or negative. Nothing!

I don’t think there is any doubt what is happening here with our public record. The city clerk has taken it upon herself to be judge and censor of what is allowed into the public record and what is not. And the rubber stamp council just goes along approving the lies of omission.

I hope those who have spoken so far about the issue of Mr. Wogen’s shameful behavior take their comments to the city council again with copies to hand out to everyone present and to the city clerk of their statement and that they read their statements again for the public record. Only this time I hope that all four do it on the same night. Because Ms. Johnson obviously didn’ t hear what I heard.

Also if you listen closely you may hear what I hear. The fabric of democracy unraveling in DeKalb.

6 thoughts on “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

  1. I’m not sure that Herb Rubin actually named Victor Wogen in his comments, so that may or may not be fair game.

    Handing out copies of the statements is a good idea, but if there is a procedure in place for requesting a change to them, that could be tried first.

  2. Thank you for posting this information as I had no idea that Ms. Donna Johnson did such a poor job of summarizing my public statement on May 29th. Her summary lacks real substance, and anyone reading it in the future will likely miss the point of why I spoke out.

    So, is this a product of laziness or a subtle act of political manipulation?

    For anyone who is wondering, here’s the statement I made:

    At the end of last month, I called Alderman Wogen at home to discuss my concerns about the controversial mailer that circulated in the Third Ward just before the election. At that time, he told me that he did not know who created it, and to the best of my knowledge, that continues to be his position. Well, after giving the matter some serious thought, I arrived at an unsettling conclusion: I simply do not believe him. I mean, how is it that 1800 mailers are sent out with a person’s name on them and yet that person has no idea where they came from?

    Now, I know how cynical people can be about politics in this country. As a former high school government teacher and current Ph. D. student in political science, I’ve heard all of the usual criticisms of government far too many times. Undoubtedly, many citizens totally disengage the democratic process when they believe public officials mislead us to attain their own political ends. What happened in this last election, specifically the deception involving the campaign mailer, erodes the faith people have in existing institutions.

    In the spirit of being direct, I simply don’t have any tolerance or respect for anyone – friend or official – who behaves in a deceptive manner; and nobody in this room should either. Some of you might be thinking that “everyone deserves a second chance,” well, not when it comes to violations of the public trust, for there is too much is at stake here. This isn’t about an event in isolation, rather another example of how our cultural values continue to decline as honesty is further eclipsed by political self-interest.

    So, it seems we have a choice to make. We can either accept the ensuing decline or we can resist it. I believe in resistance – that’s why I’m here. At the inauguration ceremony two weeks ago, people went through the motions of clapping and shaking hands and all of the other “social niceties” when they could have consciously chosen to apply social pressure. Why? Someone who is arrogant enough to deceive voters is not going to develop a moral compass overnight and leave office on his or her own. While this suggestion might sound harsh and make people feel uncomfortable, the end result of peacefully driving the undeserving out is in the entire community’s best interest.

    Thank you.

  3. John A. Duerk
    DeKalb, IL 60115

    June 24, 2007

    Mayor Frank Van Buer
    City of DeKalb
    200 South Fourth Street
    DeKalb, IL 60115

    RE: City Council Minutes for May 29, 2007 Regular Meeting

    Dear Mayor Van Buer:

    It has been brought to my attention that some of the minutes recorded during a past City Council meeting are beyond inadequate. More specifically, I am referring to the “Citizen Comments” section of the May 29th regular meeting where my name (and others) is (are) listed as having spoken. I find it very disturbing that my public statement is summarized as follows: “expressed his opinion regarding the recent 3rd Ward election.” Anyone reading these minutes in the future will not have a sense of the real reason why I spoke before the council: Alderman Wogen’s unethical campaign tactics and the fact that most people simply accepted what he did. It appears that this weak summary of my comments is a product of someone’s personal laziness, professional indifference, or political manipulation – and I would like it to be amended to accurately reflect what I said that evening.

    Attached is a copy of my original statement so you can read it for yourself.

    I would appreciate a response from you on this important matter.


    John A. Duerk

  4. I didn’t mention Wogen’s name but was staring at him and did get a bit disconcerted when the lawyer interupted me to say I had 30 second left. To make sure I stay within time limits I write out stuff and time it. Her interruption destroyed my flow. I’ve also written using Wogen’s name since clearly he was the offending party.

    Historically, though, Ms. Johnson’s minutes have been very late and not all that accurate.

    Herb Rubin

  5. Herb Rubin, thanks for clarifying as well as commenting on the quality of meeting minutes. Minutes being posted routinely late is just as troubling. I’m sure that more of us will be watching closely from now on.

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