This is the latest phone/email from District 428:
This message is from the DeKalb School District to inform families that from time to time we allow coverage of activities, events and occasionally release and/or post on our website students’ photographs/work, performances, awards, and honor listings to be used in informational news coverage and educational purposes. If you do not want your child’s information and/or photo used, please indicate the request in writing and schedule an appointment to meet with your building principal.
Whom should I meet with first? My son’s principal or the genius administrator who is betting that the inconvenience created will eliminate the need to verify consents?
Your tax dollars are hard at work, threatening people.
Last night during the council meeting, city attorney Dean Frieders not once but twice discussed a “fake” City of DeKalb page on Facebook. The first time he described it as “libelous” and the second, egged on by Ald. Naylor, he pondered whether anything about it was “actionable.”
I found the page before meeting’s end and, to my amusement, it had 40 more “likes” than the official City of DeKalb page. I myself “liked” it immediately. Since then it’s been taken down, though. I don’t know if the page owner did it or if a city employee finally figured out s/he could just complain to Facebook like normal people do. Read the rest of this entry
A Chronicle article last week talks about all the new building, equipment and personnel the City of DeKalb is investing into its fire department.
I read the article after just having skimmed through the city’s check register for August. The police department spent, among other things, $125,000+ on software and $2600 on the new dog, including $79.95 for a water bowl. They seem to be having fun. Read the rest of this entry
A request made by Brad Manning Ford came up in the last DeKalb council meeting agenda:
The dealership says it can get $400,000 from Ford to put towards the [$2.3 million expansion] project, but that it still can’t foot the rest of the bill. The $110,000 that it is requesting from the city represents about 4.7 percent of the total cost – below the city’s traditional maximum project cost-sharing percentage of 20 percent.
The requested rebate would come from new sales taxes generated over and above the existing taxes that the dealership generates now, according to city documents. The program would end after seven years, or whenever the $110,000 mark is met using a 50-50 split – whichever happens first.
According to documents that the dealership provided to the city, it expects to generate a total of $110,000 in sales taxes in 2014 and more than $170,000 per year by the year 2020.
I left a comment with the story:
I like Manning Ford a lot and have had great experiences with their sales, service and rental departments. However, I note that the City of DeKalb purchased a $29,350 Ford Explorer from them in June, and I wonder which dealer ended up supplying the new squad cars totaling $151,700? In other words, maybe Manning is already getting enough help from the city?
Read the rest of this entry
The city manager, not the mayor, is the chief executive officer in DeKalb’s council-manager form of government. Ideally we should be paying as much attention to selection of the city manager as we do the mayoral election — especially these days, when the city council declines to put expiration dates on their managers’ contracts and allows the manager to spend up to $20,000 at a time without council approval.
Personal conclusions notwithstanding, there is a process in place for hiring a city manager that is supposed to let the cream rise to the top. Recently I sifted through documents obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to bring you an update. Read the rest of this entry
**Update September 15: Here’s the link to the full, 56-minute Housing Bureau discussion (HT M.C.)**
The City of DeKalb and the Chronicle recently made a big deal of a Housing Bureau employee’s using city email in negotiating her rent. But now that looks like the tip of the iceberg.
For adequate context, I recommend watching from about 6:30 to 9:30. The money quote from Alderman Baker comes after 8:30 and he makes another comment about the matter at 14:00.
What should be our conclusion here? That there’s rampant corruption but it’s kept secret unless the employee is stupid enough to put it in writing?
And where’s the Chronicle? This happened on Monday.
A new article from the Better Government Association explores growing pressures to consolidate public safety services.
…[M]unicipal budget shortfalls are forcing a growing segment of Northern Illinois suburbs to consider what was once unthinkable: Merging basic hometown public safety operations with neighboring or regional governments, such as the county sheriff’s departments.
Skittish residents, however, are concerned these reconstituted public safety departments will be more widespread and less responsive to their local safety and emergency needs. Nonetheless, the trend is likely to extend deep into other suburban areas and rural Illinois, say public finance and municipal experts.
I’ve occasionally engaged in casual conversations about formation of a metropolitan police agency or emergency services center belonging to DeKalb, Sycamore and perhaps one or two additional surrounding communities.
Although municipal revenue free falls have generally stopped since the recession ended, yearly revenue increases are now typically small and devoured instantly by increases in expenditures for insurance, commodities and contractual raises. Nobody knows when this trend of flatlined revenues will end. Meanwhile, raising taxes is politically difficult and, in many suffering communities, would be downright cruel. The alternatives are to watch service delivery capabilities erode or to find more economical ways to deliver services.
Careful consolidation could help us realize significant economies of scale by applying a metro or regional focus to eliminate duplicate administrative functions, equipment and software purchases and so on. But we’d have a much better chance of doing it right if we start planning during a relative period of calm. In other words, if we’re going to have the conversation, let’s do it now.
Filed under: First Responders
| Tagged as: budget
Is the City of DeKalb postponing action on its consultants’ recommendations for political or other selfish reasons?
When the financial consultants known as Executive Partners, Inc. (EPI) first came to town in 2009, the City of DeKalb made a big deal of them. DeKalb needed to show it was doing something about its financial mess, and at that point it seemed reasonable to blame the economy instead of city administrators.
Officials implemented some of the EPI recommendations and proudly showcased the accomplishments.
This time around is very different so far. I will describe the differences and share guesses about what motivates them. Read the rest of this entry
Filed under: City Watch
| Tagged as: budget
Talk of a possible teachers’ strike last month was tense and emotional for a lot of us. When the school board and the teachers’ union came together at nearly the last minute, I felt relieved and psychologically moved past it right away.
But that was wrong.
What I should have done, and will do now, is to recognize that District 428 put out a bunch of information about the negotiations at its website. At first they posted the final offers from each side. Then they added a document clarifying the sticking points between the two groups, and others that compared District 428 work hours and pay to other districts in the area. Anyone who cared to read them was totally in the loop.
The district also front-paged a link to all these documents for easy access.
Well done, District 428.
This is from WBEZ so is Chicago-centric; nevertheless it’s a useful way to look at Tax Increment Financing districts and features three TIF experts.
Bonus: Ben Joravsky’s latest, a look at the DePaul Basketball Boondoggle.
The mayor says it will cost at least $55 million to buy land for [a hotel] project and the money will come from the tax increment financing program, intended to eradicate blight in poor neighborhoods.
This block is as close to blight as you’ll find around this neighborhood. The buildings across the street look like they could use a coat or two of paint, and a few windows are boarded up.
In its promotional material for the project, the city depicts this area as a slum. What the city doesn’t show you is that just down the street to the east and south are dozens of high-rises and townhouses that have been built over the last ten or so years—without any TIF handouts.
The rules of “blight” and “but for” are anything they say it is, whether you’re talking Chicago or DeKalb. TIF requires reform. Or our governments do. Or both.
Filed under: TIF
| Tagged as: TIF