Council Thread 9/8/08

My favorite part was when Chief Feithen told Council either to git ‘er done tonight on the police station financing decision else he’d arrange for some trailers to be placed out back to accommodate his department.

My most unfavorite parts were when two aldermen basically admitted that the Open Meetings Act is violated by Council all the time via the closed session, and when Ald. Simpson said that a good result in choosing an acceptable acting mayor justified how it was done.

Council worked hard and did OK for a group making the basic assumption that taxes had to be raised. Just think what they might have done if the basic assumption had been that cuts were necessary.

Speaking of assumptions, it would appear that some are trying to plan for the day when repeal of home rule is accomplished.

Update: Several articles are available on these long meetings. Northern Star weighs in. Chronicle has gory police station details, plus one on the new AFSCME contract and special bonus writeup on Tom Teresinski’s installation as 2nd Ward alderman. Somebody was up late last night.

8 thoughts on “Council Thread 9/8/08”

  1. I am reposting Kay’s comments here:

    OK, the Police Station discussion will probably drop off the bottom of the page.

    I watched the Committee of the Whole from home.

    Mac–Great pinch hitting from the floor.

    Pevo–Way to dumb it down so folks ‘get it’ on what group pays what percentage of the proposed costs. That is too bad it still went over some of their heads.

    Alderman Simpson–Well it is about time this man started talking because he has a lot of good things to say. Perhaps in the past he made observations and learned, and now he feels comfortable in standing up and speaking out. Keep it up!

    Alderman Naylor–No guts, no glory.

    Chief Fiethen–This man should get an Academy Award for holding his temper after almost a decade of the city putzing around and not going anywhere with this.

    Oh boy, the five minute break is over . . . Here we go again . . .

  2. The hotel thing I can’t really speak on, I think most of the people there were really burned up about the Mason townhomes more than the concept of the hotel. Will wait to see how that turns up when it goes to the public hearing. Was impressed though with the enormous public turnout (outrage really) on this issue.

    It kind of seems like with the union contract deal that both sides just gave up on trying to fix the loose issues and just wanted this to end with a compromise. Seeing as how this is well overdue now I guess that may have been the last option. Really disappointing regardless of who you support. They really should start working on the next contract well in advance of this one expiring so we don’t have this situation again. Furthermore as was noted now the other two unions will want the reduced retirement age and I don’t see any way that that can be accomplished.

    Something dawned on me when the home rule issue was raised. Since as was said, the existing rates would be frozen in place at the time of home rule revocation, the council theoretically could increase the sales tax to like 9% if it became very clear that revocation was going to happen in order to (in their eyes) ensure that there would be enough money for at least the next few years. Politically suicidal but still a distinct and unfortunately not to be unexpected possibility.

    Furthermore, the council would never approve for referendum a motion to decrease that tax since the public would never approve one to increase it again later, so we would be stuck either way. In fact, in a distinctly machiavellian fashion, this would be used as an arguement to reinstate home rule so that the council would decrease it themselves. A bit like having a gun to your head don’t you think?

    Even though I am concerned about the specifics about the financial arrangements, I do have to applaud the Chief for laying it out on the line tonight. This is an embarassment for our community that the police station hasn’t been done yet. Imagine if we had marathon sessions like this more often, then perhaps something might actually be accomplished!

  3. Does Alderman Baker own any hotels, motels, restaurants, or bars? I could not understand his brick-wall opposition to raising any of those taxes.

    Nobody cancels a stay at a hotel because the tax is 5% or even 7%. Many of the booking agencies do not include the exact amount of the hotel tax anyway. Go to: and plug in DeKalb.

    I cannot really see hotel owners in Baker’s ward complaining about a little more in taxes added because those get passed right to the consumers, although maybe there is some opposition?

    At this point, a little more in taxes would be cheaper than someone driving from Sycamore and spending more on gas.

    From playing with Expedia and plugging in DeKalb for various dates, I found a bunch of instances when there were almost no hotel rooms available. We are letting money go to other cities for hotel costs.

    I am planning a national convention for an organization to which I belong and it will be in Dixon a couple of years from now. DeKalb would be easier for me to deal with because of its closeness but there is such a lack of hotel space during the summer that the convention committee decided DeKalb would not work at all. I did a quick calculation and that is over $100,000 just for hotel space and food that Dixon will get that DeKalb will not get. That translates into about $4,200 in hotel tax and $800 in restaurant tax headed to another city.

  4. “Furthermore as was noted now the other two unions will want the reduced retirement age and I don’t see any way that that can be accomplished.”

    Agreed. If 60 is the new 50, we will end up with a lot of people on pension money who will live a long, long time.

  5. I, too, was quite surprised that:

    A. I finally got the aldermen to partially fess up to the “CLOSED” Mayoral selection process used to fill the Mayoral vacancy. I have E-mailed Mr Povlsen, Keller, Naylor and others regarding this and they were all unwilling to respond. The only way to get them to talk about was by bringing it up at Monday’s meeting during public comments.

    B. By the admission that the open Meetings Act is frequently violated by Council all the time via the closed session. Can anyone say DUH?

    I always suspected that as well. I’m sorry, but I do take exception to Ald. Simpson’s connotation that a good result in choosing an acceptable acting mayor justified how it was done. I don’t buy that for one minute. Mr Simpson – The Ends don’t justify the means!

    Donna Gorski’s response was pure nonsense.

    Regarding the Police station funding. I still am not sold on the fact that the city needs a NEW police facility. Yes, the PD needs more space. I still think the option of building on the 3rd floor of City hall must be re-considered.

    TAXES are not the way to go. What happened to Ald Wogen’s odd suggestion a few weeks ago that ShoDeen would contribute to fund the Police facility?

    If this council is insistent on building this $17 million dollar facility, Property taxes are not the way to go. Yes, I realize property taxes must be included for bonding purposes, but further abatement could be made as a result of the city doubling or tripling police fines and selling off city property in addition to raising the Hotel-Motel tax.

    This $85.00 meter surcharge is outrageous! The Restaurant-Bar tax is ridiculous. “Mayor-Select” Povlsen is wrong when he says that people won’t go out of town to eat. When the same food is involved, I will choose Sycamore over DeKalb

    Yinn- My Blood pressure is elevated, but it’s getting back in check!

  6. I double dog dare Minutes Johnson to take notes during any meetings between the neighbors on Annie Glidden and the future hotel owner, who might be speaking English as a second language. The camera caught her making some bizarre faces when he spoke.

    What was all of the garbage from Jennifer Groce earlier? Just because something was not a problem in the past with some building owners doesn’t mean there could be a problem in the future with different building owners.

    TIF areas would not contribute property taxes to a new police station? Isn’t about half the city a TIF district?

    Me thinks we have a Groce TIF problem.

  7. Kay I beg to differ, and aparently you don’t stay in as many hotels as I do during the course of the year.

    my company has a bottom line price we set on hotel stays, this includes taxes, and yes we have ways of finding out what those are.

    We do move on from a higher taxed location to stay in a nicer hotel, for the same price, or less.

    I stay in a hotel more than most I would say, and those who know me know how often I do…

    So yes we do look at those taxes and yes we do move on in most cases if they are too high, and do not offer enough amenities at those locations.

    If you notice we build lower end hotels in this town, or in sycamore, we don’t have a full service hotel I would stay in honestly..

    The best we have is the holiday inn in Sycamore, although it would have been better if it were full service , had a bar, and a resturant in it.. but then again we are lacking good resturants in this town as well

    I for one would love to see a Denny’s or an Ihop, an Olive Garden, a TGIF, Lonestar, or higher end steak place, No johnny’s charhouse is not a good steak place in my opinion…

    I would love to see a classy resturant, that included fine dining, a good wine menu, and maybe even some dancing..some place you could get a decent meal with good atmosphere..

    I hate how the Mill Race Inn in Geneva looks, from the outside but the inside, and the meal are great!…

    something like that overlooking the river here, or that had a forested backdrop would be great!

    I have had many meals in alot of resturants, mom and pop and standards…so I have a good opinion on these..

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