Council Watch, 8/11/08

Congratulations to Acting Mayor Povlsen. Of the group comprising City Council, he is the best choice.

That’s not to say I will be agreeing with him anytime soon. For example:

Top issues that he will be moving forward are working with the liquor industry on revising the city’s liquor code and working with landlords on creating a rental unit inspection program, Povlsen said.

Wrong! DeKalb’s top priority is to ensure its long-term financial health and the place to start is with the police station. Along with making decisions about funding the building of the facility, we must figure out how and why we failed to save up for it during the past 7-years-plus.

And I’d really, really appreciate it if council members would stop bragging about the property tax rate remaining the same for 15 years. During the times of our heaviest growth and increased home values, it should have been reduced, as this would have been an example of growth paying for itself. But because they spend every penny, because they think it’s fine to go into debt to build, and because they have consistently refused to adjust anything downward during booms, our leaders have relegated the concept of growth paying for itself to the status of myth. Too bad.

On to the skating rink!

What we really needed from Re:New’s Jennifer Groce instead of the tiny cute animated skater was a breakdown of the $75,000 price tag because last night we found out that it will require an underlay of sand and/or fine gravel and an impermeable layer. Is the cost of these materials included? How about for the floodlights which were also mentioned for the first time? And what about the labor to set it up and to store it?

Sounds like a Public Works Overtime Bonanza to me.

They need also to explain why they dropped the Park District like a hot potato in order to bring in out-of-towners to manage it.

That’s about it for now. Who do you like for 2nd Ward alderman? If you don’t feel comfortable naming names under your own name, choose a psuedo (Please! Something snazzy! We have enough “anons” to keep track of!) or e-mail me to put it forward here.

27 thoughts on “Council Watch, 8/11/08”

  1. Ivan. The Krpans have a long history of unselfish and effective public service. Then for re-election, Ivan along with Mac for Mayor.

    I think Povlsen has become less effective as time has gone on and should slide out of the public spotlight after the muni elections. Case in point are his priorities. I reacted same as yinn when I saw those priorities. I don’t think Frank was an effective mayor and programs like this (inspection, liquor code emphasis) versus effective managment/oversight of budget and city management are why and what a new LEADER must bring to the table.

    What wards do yinn and Kay belong to?

  2. imploding-anonymous-poster… yer right. I don’t like the news about builder woes, but thanks for the link. The story is accurate and reflects the times. It and the Home Builder Implode-O-Meter, however, does not adequately personalize the situation. For too long and far too often local pols have painted the residential construction industry as beneficial only to a handful of builders and developers. The fact ignored was the thousands of high paying jobs dependent upon those hammers. The scam employed was to spend the windfall new construction EAV for new toys, exhorbitant salaries and pensions when, if not for selfish violations of public trust, the expanded tax base could have been planned to provide real relief from oppressive taxation.

    Paul… thanks for the mayoral compliments. To be put in the same category with Ivan is flattering. Ivan would make a great alderman/mayor should he choose either. He was an outstanding President of the DCBDA whom I served under.

    The best man for this job just might be a woman. I’ve been very impressed by Lynn Fazekas who has really stepped up to hold the City of DeKalb accountable to the real meaning of open and honest government.

    Paul Greenlee would also make a great community leader. What ward do you live in?

    Maybe I’d be the best woman for the City Clerk position. My hair is long enough. I could use the money. And I’d guarantee that there would be no violations of the Open Meetings Act or hidden funds or expenses under my watch. I wouldn’t be able to vote but that’s never shut me up. Scary thought for some, I’d bet.

  3. I am think of applying for the appointment but not being a candidate for the next election. This would allow votes strickly for the good of the city without worry of the “political” ramifications.

    Also depends on when the position is to be filled. City need to fill this asap without delay. To much tie breaking power for the mayor with a 6 v 7 person council. No reason to wait 60 days to make an appointment do it right away.

    Note: Preception is important. Imagine being on furlough and drivng past a newly constrcuted Ice Rink paid for with tax dollars from the same entity that has you on furlough.

    Yinn is correct the immediate goal has to be returning the City to financial stability

    More later I am in the office today.


  4. I should have asked Paul by now what ward he lives in, but have selfishly been, in my own mind, “saving” him for the school board. My bad.

    Ditto Steve Berg, come to think of it.

  5. Hypocrisy Run Amok!

    Out of the seven choices available for the Acting mayor position, I would have put Ald Povlsen at #2 on my list (behind Ald Baker). Ald Baker is generally the most independent thinker and would have made a better choice.

    This mayoral selection process was more like the election of a POPE (though, without the chimney smoke) Did anyone catch Ald Povlsen’s lovely speeches last night? Kris Stated:

    “We had the “option” to make this into closed session and that’s how was presented to us. I personally would have seen it in open, but that was the process that we decided.“

    He goes on to say:

    “I’m dedicated to open Government”

    He also tossed in the phrases …”Inclusion and openness”

    Kris – GIVE ME A BREAK! He indicated they had the “option”. I believe the word “option” means CHOICE. Instead of choosing open government as “Mayor Select” Povlsen professes, he chooses CLOSED government to begin his Acting mayor term.

    I’m hoping Kris can see the differences between his statements and his actions and will choose the path of open government for his tenure as acting Mayor.

    Now Let’s go Skating!

  6. If things continue the way they are, I think the time is coming soon where we will need to lay off public works employees in order to hire police officers. Now some of you may like that idea but then don’t have any expectations then in the winter that streets will be plowed since they are already stretched to the limit on that. I don’t know if this interim administration can do anything about this, but the next mayor and council cannot avoid this. We’re going to have to do something radical about pensions (like switching people over to 401ks) in order to get out of this mess.

    Skating rink… If they say that under this arrangement, the rink will become profitable in six years, well then, PERHAPS THE SERVICE CONTRACT SHOULD BE SIX YEARS LONG to make sure that we don’t get screwed with this! Damn, why is nobody thinking about this? There’s no coherent thought from one sentence to the next on these things.

    Police station… While I welcome the effort to get the finance committee involved in this since they have a greater mandate than the police facility committee did, I don’t expect any significant changes in the plan. I think some people are overestimating the value of the city-owned downtown properties, they are not going to put much of a dent in the cost of the station. Unless something unexpected comes up, we’ll just have to suck it up and deal with the property tax. I think our best hope is for the police to get lucky and pull over a truck that’s full of drug money and seize it. :P

    2nd is not my ward, so I’ll leave it to the “locals” to come up with names.

  7. I have considered running for alderman, and I am in Povlsen’s ward. I also thought about running for the school board. Right now, I simply do not have the necessary time to devote to either of these pursuits. Mac and Yinn are aware of the nature of my other commitments. Besides, I would probably wind up like the lead character in Abraham Lincoln’s story of the man who was being tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail. He said, “If it were not for the honor involved, I’d much rather walk.” As for the public employee pension issue, this is a sticky one. When I worked in city administration, even as an intern, I was automatically enrolled in the IMRF. When I was a substitute teacher, I was automatically enrolled in the teacher retirement system. At NIU, you have a bit more of a choice as to your pension plan. Police and fire department pensions are handled differently. Most public employee pension plans are defined benefit, not defined contribution plans like a 401k. My personal view is that the states and other public entities are not going to be able to afford to pay the full benefit amounts to many of their retiring employees down the road. Many of them have already dipped their hands into the cookie jar and have raided the pension funds in a variety of ways. This makes them even less actuarially sound. I confidently predict that retirement and pension funds are going to be an awful mess down the road a ways, and not all that far in the future. There are plenty of games being played in both private and public retirement funds, and the financial markets right now. In any event, I doubt that the City could arbitrarily change their pension funds over to defined contribution plans. It would take an act of the state General Assembly to do that.

  8. anon…

    DeKalb doesn’t have a TIF Finance Review Board, like Zion does. But Zion does have a synthetic ice rink:

    Police station: an up or down vote is needed ASAP and it should not be drug through this and that committee. The police station should not be made the straw man for ‘revenue enhancements’ used for other purposes. Take the car stickers for example… terrible idea to finance the police station… but suddenly, it ain’t so bad to buy new city vehicles. The citizens and the people elected to represent them deserve better than that. So does our police department.

  9. You’ve all been busy after the announcement of the new Mayor. I do think without a doubt that Kris should’ve been the choice. With 11 years on the council and as senior alderman, it is only right. I’m not really sure that the staff agrees. They didn’t look too excited with the announcement or am I the only one that caught that? Well congratulations Mayor Kris Polvsen.

    Implode-O-Meter. I’ll tell you it’s not been easy to say the least. We finally sold some product and you should see the smiles on the faces of those working at the appliance store, the flooring store, my stair builder is excited, all my subs like the plumber, electrician, and HVAC are counting on their fingers the potential now for at least having a few more 40 hour work weeks yet this year. Oh, the concrete guys for footings and foundations are waving at me with big smiles with the hopes of some real work coming.

    Bubble, this community was never really in a bubble as the rest of the plagued big development communities were around the country. We just tend to be a little more conservative in these parts than most other areas. There are many qualified buyers in this area and unfortunately what we are seeing is the trouble that was brought on by those unqualified buyers. Our real problem here was allowing the big production builders to come in and “wine and dine and cast their magical illusions” on those who really could only afford to rent but got convinced they could be homeowners by the simple use of creative financing. This is what has caused an over abundance of homes in the lower priced market. The upper market could and would sell if those buyers could find someone to purchase their present home. It’ll right itself but I wonder how many good local builders will give up because of this downturn. This is truly a loss for our community as the big volume builders will just up and leave, heck many of those builders still haven’t learned the area zip codes and their gone.

    As for the alderman position. I too am flattered that I would be considered by many. I really can’t say yes and I can’t say no. Being born and raised in this community and seeing how things have changed (and not changed) in this community, I feel that each of us really should give back to his or hers community. If this is a way that I can, I would consider, but right now DeKalb is in a pickle and it’s going to take a complete council to right this ship. I am in the second ward and have been a resident since 2000.

    DeKalb is a great community with so much potential but it is that because of the people who live here. The last thing we should be doing is forcing these good people to wonder if they are going to have to move because it just got to expensive to live here.

    As for Mac and his city clerk statement. I’m not too sure that sounds too crazy at all.

  10. Yinn starts with a great point that some may be overlooking.

    On the new police station it is being designed to handle the growth of the community over the next 20 years. If that is the case shouldn’t the future impact fees collected be applied to the excess planned into the constuction of this facility.

    Yinn states the “concept of growth paying for itself” is the basis of public service impact fees. So one cas assume that if a 16m facilty has 25% room for expansion then 4m of the debt should be paid by future collected impact fees.

    I think the financials of this facility are still being worked out but lets not forget the basic premiss Yinn reminds us of, that ” growth paying for itself” must be considered for the the expansion that is being planned for this building!

    Maybe the “term” of the note for the present taxpayer should be reduced from 20 to 15 years and the last 5 years of the note the responsibilty of the future residents with payments from inpact fees, annexation agreements and the like.

    Just some thoughts that needed to be shared


  11. OK, I’m back. I’ve actually written 3 different responses to the compliment Mac paid me yesterday and have finally resigned myself to being wholly inadequate.

    So I’ll just say: Thanks, Mac. It means a lot.

    And think some more about it.

  12. I second the nomination of the good Mr. MacIntyre. I think he’d make a great clerk for Lynn to work with.

    I presently am a serf in the fiefdom of Naylor. I will put together a top 10 list of why I cannot serve in an elected position. Maybe Mr. Naylor or Dr. Beillfuss will come back and serve as the reader of it, like on Letterman.

  13. I guess my posting of comments sent to me by a life-long resident belonged here.

    Thanks Mac! Thanks also to the “Chronicle” for pointing out that TIF diverts tax money to special projects, and for showing how reliant DeKalb is for TIF.

    OK, I think I can save the $50,000 planned for a marketing/slogan/branding consultant. Here are some choices:

    DeKalb: The City That Runs on TIF

    DeKalb: TIF City (obviously instead of Barb City)

  14. OK as promised, but not like anybody cares:

    Top 10 Reasons Why I Cannot Run For Office Or Be Considered A Community Leader:

    10. I have Mitt Romney’s problem; I’m a Mormon, but I don’t have his $35 million to run for office. (Might need the $35 million for my DeKalb tax bill)
    9. I use the word “moron” way too often in public conversation and when referring to other elected officials (I also use a Moron Factor to rate meetings)
    8. I only have two campaign contributors. Their names are Visa and Mastercard. Neither gentleman, at my wife’s behest, wishes me to be involved.
    7. A Republican getting elected to anything in DeKalb?
    6 Opponents would use my affection for listening to Barry Manilow, John Denver and The Carpenters against me.
    5. Adding the stress of political office to my love of fried foods would shorten my life expectancy to three months
    4. People already throw enough garbage at me when I’m in public; I don’t need another reason for this.
    3. I wouldn’t wink during public meetings
    2. Time spent serving would take away from my ability to converse at “City Barbs” and “DeKalb County Online”
    And the number one reason Paul Greenlee cannot run for office: Who’d elect a guy whose platform includes increasing the unemployment numbers (by firing city managers)?

  15. ROFL!!

    Paul I would never hold your being a Mormon or a Republican against you. However, you’re on shaky ground with the Manilow thing and I find it absolutely appalling that you think of Visa as one of the guys.

  16. Kay- Sometimes I have wondered what it would be like if we played this out as far as it will go and just make the whole town one big TIF district. Well there always seems to be a little sidewalk $$ in the TIF and they wouldn’t have to worry about where they move portable skating rinks. The big question: What is the limit, if any, on TIF transfers to the Black Hole?

  17. Which black hole, the AIRPORT!!??

    Shouldn’t that be:

    The Biggest Black Hole?

    Paul–if your platform included firing the city managers, Visa and Mastercard could take a rest while some Angry Landlords would probably be happy to throw in some bucks to put up more signs around town. I think Angry Landlords tops the list of those most angry at the city right now.

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