DeKalb Declares War on Bloggers

From Citizens Community Enhancement Commission (CCEC) meeting minutes (PDF p. 42), September 21, 2009:

1. City Image Chairman Matya advised that at the suggestion of City Manager Biernacki, he and Mr. Barnes met with Mr. Biernacki, Mr. Espiritu and Mr. Herb Rubin regarding the City’s image on blogs, etc. It was suggested that the CCEC speak to the Daily Chronicle to see what can be done regarding untruths and personal attacks on the City and its employees. Also discussed was asking the CCEC and members of the community to write letters to the Chronicle to counteract this and look to the Chronicle for accountability.

Discussion ensued regarding how the bloggers may affect Council’s opinion on projects, i.e. the pedestrian pass through.

Mr. Barnes stated there are not enough people countering these bloggers; he added there needs to be more activity. Additionally, he suggested posting links to the City’s website which gives correct information on issues.

This came straight from the City’s website, Mr. Barnes, so I trust you have no objection to my blogging it? BTW, I’m all for additional information on the city’s website but would ask that y’all stop the habit of calling disagreement “misinformation.” The only “misinformation” is that people thought spending $325,000 on a ramp and glorified umbrella was a new dumb idea instead of an old dumb idea.*

Chairman Matya stated there is concern about misinformation [!] and how to address it; however, it isn’t appropriate for City employees to respond to blogs. Perhaps a fact sheet could be developed, he added. Also, there may be a need to develop an exchange of ideas with the Chronicle and create a better dialogue. They may have some suggestions on what other newspapers do, or what other cities do to protect themselves.

Um, maybe other cities put out the facts proactively, and “protect” themselves with responsiveness to the overall community and not just a tiny in-group? Just a thought.

Mr. Pietens stated it might not be a good idea to let the Chronicle know the bloggers are affecting the city.

Bless you, Mr. or Madame Secretary, whoever you are.

He said people need to step up and state what the City is doing right. Ms. Johnson doubted a meeting will be beneficial, but added there needs to be good news in the paper.

Mr. Rasmussen suggested talking to the radio stations and rebutting some of these issues. Mr. Espiritu advised Mayor Povlsen is on the radio weekly.

Chairman Matya stated comments do have an impact on the City’s image, and asked if there is consensus that some members of the Commission visit the Chronicle. Mr. Barnes said concerns could be raised at the meeting regarding activity in the blogs and how it affects morale of City staff and the community. Chairman Matya added questions could be asked if the Chronicle believes they are getting the communication from the City that they need. Also, Mr. Pietens said concerns could be raised that bloggers with three identities may disproportionately affect City policy.

Stop worrying. I have it straight from the mayor that he never reads the blogs.

Consensus of the CCEC was to approve a visit from Chairman Matya and Mr. Barnes to the Chronicle editorial staff. The item will be placed on the October agenda and Chairman Matya and Mr. Barnes will report back on the meeting.

Chairman Matya commented that it is a huge issue for the City because it doesn’t have anyone to perform media or public relations.

Competent and honest services is all the public relations you need. Trying to fix the image of something that’s broken is the ultimate lipstick-on-a-pig project.

Ms. Small announced there is an open house on Tuesday, September 22nd from 4-6 p.m. at the Chronicle. She added the Chronicle may be motivated to take action if they are pressured by their advertisers.

Chairman Matya asked if the CCEC believes it worthwhile to draft a memo to Council and the Mayor stating it supports the original pedestrian pass through plan presented to Council and ask them to go back to the citizens’ survey of 2005 where it was asked and overwhelmingly supported to approve funds to be spent to revitalize downtown.

I was one of the supporters. What they are not understanding is that economic times have changed to the point that basic services are now threatened by these expenditures. What we didn’t realize was that they took our support for something more than cosmetic changes to be a BLANK CHECK. We also know a who-o-le lot more about TIF than we did four years ago.

Ms. Johnson moved that Chairman Matya draft a letter to the Council and the Mayor indicating support of the original pedestrian pass through and reference community approval as indicated in the 2005 citizens’ survey; seconded by Mr. Barnes. Motion carried 7-0-2 on voice vote. Chairman Matya declared the motion passed.

City Council: I call upon you to denounce these activities. Is “community enhancement” supposed to be about coming up with strategies to stifle dissenting voices? I think not.

[*Update added 12:20 p.m. Emphases added 2:15 p.m.]

18 thoughts on “DeKalb Declares War on Bloggers”

  1. “Hey, Mr. Mayor, I got me an Idea(er)”
    “Yes, Mr. Alderman?”
    “We could send Vito, Tito, and Guido over to that newspaper, and muscle them into not allowing freedom of speech.”
    “Mr. Alderman, do you think we could get away with…, I mean have we checked with our legal department yet?”
    “Mr. Mayor, we’re elected officials in Illinois, we can do whatever we want!”
    “Mr. Alderman, have you checked with our City Manager?”
    “Let’s go over to O’leary’s to check…”
    “Mr. City manager, is it legal for us to…”
    “Legal Schmegal. Tell ’em I sent Ya’. Waitress, I’ll need a receipt…..”

  2. “Mr. Barnes stated there are not enough people countering these bloggers; he added there needs to be more activity. ”
    This reminds me of an “anti-smear” campaign: they don’t like what the people are saying, so they are trying to shut us up.
    “Counter-Blogger-ism” Bloggorism? Bloggerist? Bloggeristas? Bloggeurilla?
    Pardon me, I have some copyright paperwork to file.

    “Also, Mr. Pietens said concerns could be raised that bloggers with three identities may disproportionately affect City policy.”
    How would they know HOW MANY I.D.’s someone had if they weren’t already sharing info I.T. to I.T.?

  3. I just posted a better story (i.e. more context, less commentary) here. I was actually thinking about replacing the CB post with it but do not want to wipe out what may be the best comment stream evah. I am going to embolden a couple of lines for emphasis, though.

    Will you be joining us at the rally, Mr. Salovesh?

  4. How would they know HOW MANY I.D.’s someone had if they weren’t already sharing info I.T. to I.T.?

    I’d heard this from another person, and this kind of clinches it for me.

  5. As fortune would have it, I don’t have to work my less than minimum wage evening shift on Monday night. I will happily be joining you at the rally. I’ll be the one with “THINK” on one side, and “Know Your Rights” on the other. Only one, the latter, is my comical blogging I.D., I do not want to be confused with other posters at the D.C. Has anyone contacted outside press for this event? Rockford T.V., other outlets? Should there be topic sheets with talking points to hand out to fellow concerned citizens/interested parties we might encounter on the way? Maybe Baker could donate his services…..
    Rally ’round the flag…….

  6. TO HELL WITH FREE SPEACH IN THE DEKALB COMMUNITY…… Is this newly adopted philosophy by the CCEC. How about this one Mr. Matya, Mr. Barnes Mr. Rubin (all very active in Renew:DeKalb schools last referendum if I’m not mistaken).

    Talk about misinformation and mistruths. There can be no better example than the horrific case of misinformation that came out from Renew:DeKalb schools about the last referendum. Grass roots campaign…. yeah right…. architects, financiers, etc. oh yeah, don’t forget the Daily Chronicle and what has continued to be a news infomation shut down concerning anything to do with getting out real information about the school situation and the shortage of money that is now calling for at least two if not three schools to be closed as the new high school comes on line. Look at the group and the names involved with this case of misinformation to the community.

    TIF is another one that also concerns DeKalb schools but also involves Renew:DeKalb. Quite original with organization names aren’t they? Look at the roster for Renew:DeKalb almost identical to Renew:DeKalb schools. Just follow the money friends.

    But, wait a minute here. It is also partially our fault. Excuses by us such as too busy, I don’t have enough experience in this, who will listen to me, my vote is only one, no one cares what I think, somebody else will do it, I’m not good in front of people are just some of the excuses used by those who do not get involved. I know, I’ve used one or two of them myself over the years.

    I’ve tried to make up for it a bit while trying to keep my sanity and keep raising a family in what is proving to be some very trying times but at the same time, I am very glad to see many more neighbors offering a few minutes here and there to help make a statement or give us some information they have heard. The more who get involved just means that all can spend a little less time and not have to be watching everything.

    Malta has woken up with regards to their grade school and thanks to Kerry Mellott for raising and carrying the flag over in Malta along with helping here locally in DeKalb. Mac has done a phenomenal job and duty to his community for all of the countless hours that he along with his staff “Gracie” have put in. Little by little we see more names popping up whether with Lynn or Kay, Mark adds his own style to the game, Otis T.C. helps out D.O’Rourke and Katied2 have also fueled discussions.

    The names are increasing on our side of the bloggers base because more and more citizens of this community are seeing that the truth about what is going on is coming from US not YOU members of CCEC. It’s not coming from the local news media but instead from bloggers using their forums until that forum is interupted due to US striking a vein with the status quo.

    Yes, we need to take it one step further friends. We need to be sitting where the status quo is currently sitting. We need to take the council seats, the mayors position, the seats on the county board and school board. We need to be in these seats so that practicality and common sense can once again prevail in this community. We need to organize like it has never been done before and set our goals. So, it’s really not status quos fault that they are everywhere, it’s ours for letting them have it so easily.

  7. Oh, Yinn, one more thing. Am I one of the bloggers that the CCEC is concerned with? Because if they are, I would love to at anytime be willing to take on any of them one on one with anything they may think has been considered “misinformation” from me in any of my blog contributions.

  8. Sorry Anson and to all of the other new contributors to the blogs. Like I said, it is so much nicer now with more helping in the blogs and helping to get the truth out. It really is nice to realize that there is more to acknowledge now then just four or five. Welcome and thanks to all, it is really making a difference.

  9. Ivan- Thank you for reminding me of my civic duties and responsibilities as a community member and fellow life-long local. I have on occasion, found excuses not to do things, or not to get involved. The way I look at it, the more excuses that get made equate to free license for the politicos. I am done being a bystander, and will join the fray,, Quixotic as it may seem at times.

  10. It’s fear, plain and simple. Those in charge of all this project money, who want to keep it flowing, come hell or high water, don’t really want folks figuring out what’s going on. And they sure as shootin’ don’t want the rest of us educating others on what’s going on. And you KNOW they don’t want us to rally support for better government.

    Why the accelerated project pace? To get the money in the right hands before some of our aldermen (Mr. Gallagher) start to see the light and shut off the spigot.

    So, if you can silence the masses at a website that the public visits often (The Chronicle), then you marginalize the “nay-sayers”.

    For the record, I think the notion of revitalizing downtown is admirable. Foolhardy, given that this won’t work, not in a million years. There are better ways the city could have *partnered* with local businesses t lend a hand. But pay for it entirely? They lost me with that one.


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