Depending on City Officials for Truth about Legality of Library Expansion? Please.

It was a toss-up whether to focus on DeKalb Public Library’s ongoing coyness about its expansion plans, or the role of local media in covering for it. How about a bit of both.

Today’s WTF moment is brought to you by the Daily Chronicle in “DeKalb officials expand on library land process, say everything appears kosher”.

City attorney Dean Frieders said the city council does not have to give its approval for the land purchase because it would be funded with “relatively short-term financing,” in the form of a bequest, rather than a tax increase, a mortgage or a municipal bond to purchase the land.

And, ahem, TIF money.

Here’s the comment I left on the story.

The development agreement may give the council a “say,” but according to library law the council does more than that — council makes the call. At any rate, why are we listening to the same city officials who flip-flop about whether council has the authority to set the library’s levy (it does), and who refuse to insist the library make its annual report to council using the same detailed report it sends to the state? Perhaps it is time for our state’s attorney to step in, at least to ask for an opinion from the Illinois Attorney General.

The alternative is to go to court.

Look, I can see why the City of DeKalb and DPL seem to think they have wiggle room. The Illinois Local Library Act, Section 5-1, says when a public library wants to purchase a site for construction, they “may proceed as follows…” It’s “may” as opposed to “shall.”

However, Section 5-1 is clearly a prerequisite for Section 5-2, which is the provision whereby the council “may,” upon approval of a plan, approve the issuance of bonds for construction, or at least take the total costs into consideration of a higher library levy.

Does anybody believe the DPL board will not approach the city with its hand out? It is dishonest to the process of council’s due diligence not to present the information for approval up front.

And it is lazy of the Chronicle to take the word of city and library officials who clearly are colluding.

5 thoughts on “Depending on City Officials for Truth about Legality of Library Expansion? Please.”

  1. Lynn, I second the motion for our Attorney General to investigate. Or maybe go straight to Lisa Madigan’s office. This is one more step in a very crooked road being negotiated by less than straightforward city and library officials. It burns me up as TIF funds are involved once more. They appear to be doing everything they can to pull a fast one on the taxpayer (and other tax levying bodies) as to the eventual tax burden of library expansion. Why cannot this town do anything in a straightforward, transparent way? Who wants to support a library that refuses to openly interact with its constituency? What a shame. New leadership desperately needed!

  2. Yes, DC responded to my request for a change in title very quickly. Of course they yanked my post and another blogger’s response to my post which I did not get a chance to read, but that’s all fine with me. I’m glad they changed the title.

    Now if Jacob Haish, donor of the original library, had not been Jewish, I would have made no request.

    As Yinn points out, the word KOSHER has grown to be cleverly used to describe situations not directly connected to or based in Levitical law or modern Jewish dietary considerations. Yeah, I can understand Yinn’s desire to keep the original title.

    But in respect of Jacob Haish, I thought it best to ask for the change.

    Apparently some have less consideration for Haish…I’ve read somewhere in the various blogs about his name being removed from the ??Library??? Can anyone fill me in on that one? Thanks!

  3. Kerry, the name hasn’t been physically removed from the library but the name recognized by the state is DeKalb Public Library and no longer Jacob Haish Memorial Library. That’s what they’re talking about.

  4. Yinn-Thanks for the info on “removal” of the Haish name. I was wondering if it was “gone” on architect’s drawings or some such thing.

    My curiosity about this was spiked by the disclosure that a private donor would be paying for some of the expansion. That brought to mind the situation of what does a public library do to recognized donors when there are previous donors (Haish, perhaps others) already being recognized. If they build a new building, will they name it after the new donor? Will the “old” library still be the “Jacob Haish Memorial Library”? Interesting.

    But not so nearly as interesting as whether library and city leadership will come clean to the public and divulge a complete plan including budgeted capital costs and future operating costs. That lack of transparency with disregard for intent of the law and respect for citizens/taxpayers is where I have a problem.

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