Remember that instance a couple years ago when, if you wanted to find out what was in the new fire fighter union contract before the DeKalb council voted on it, you had to go visit the city manager? Because the contract wasn’t included in the council meeting agenda available online?

Proposed state legislation co-sponsored, among others, by neighbor-representatives Tom Demmer and Joe Sosnowski would make that sort of thing a trick of the past. Here’s the synopsis of the bill:

Amends the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Provides that, once an agreement is reached between a public or educational employer and its employees regarding all of the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the agreement shall be reduced to writing and published on the website of the public or educational employer. Requires the public or educational employer, not less than 14 days after publishing such an agreement, to hold an open public meeting on the ratification of that agreement. Makes conforming changes in the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Effective immediately.

I love it when things make sense. Hopefully the legislation doesn’t die in Rules Committee.

A Peek at DeKalb’s Assets

Today we examine City of DeKalb’s assets, more specifically the relationship between capital assets and net assets in recent years, which have become an area of concern for me.

I’ve developed three charts containing year-over-year data from the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) submitted (as AFRs) to the Office of the Illinois Comptroller. The latest CAFR, for fiscal year 2013 ending July 31, was released in December.

All three track the net assets and capital assets, but I’ve shortened the time span in successive charts so we can spot both long- and short-term trends. They cover only governmental activities, not business/enterprise (water, airport) nor fiduciary (pension) activities.

dyerware.com


Read the rest of this entry

As in the last post, I’ve gathered year-over-year information using City of DeKalb’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) as reported to the Illinois Comptroller.

All governments have to do CAFRs and we ordinary citizens are supposed to be able to understand them. As a layperson I try to figure out why and how the numbers vary year to year, and over time this tactic teaches me. CAFRs also provide details on debt and other long-term liabilities.

Let’s start with an updated chart that will look familiar to you if you follow my budget and CAFR posts. Read the rest of this entry

The City of DeKalb did me a HUGE favor. When I first went to look for the FY2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) earlier this month, it hadn’t been uploaded to the city’s website yet (though it is there now). So, I turned to the Illinois Comptroller’s online collection of local government reports instead.

The report forms there (called AFRs) have barely changed since FY2004, which allowed me to work up, in no time at all, some year-over-year comparisons of the type I do so love to create for you. This set I call “A Documentary of the Biernacki Regime” because it encompasses the 10-year tenure of former city manager Mark Biernacki.

Thanks, CoD! Read the rest of this entry

 photo NoticeofIllegalActivity_zps59aaa86d.jpg

[Photo credit: J.p. Salovesh]

This post updates one from August about Ty Fahner, partner of the law firm Mayer Brown, who told the Chicago Civic Committee the following last spring:

Last March, during a Civic Committee discussion of the state’s public pension problems, Fahner claimed that some members had talked to bond ratings agencies about lowering Illinois’ bond rating to create more pressure for pension reform.

Lowered bond ratings lead to higher borrowing costs, which is bad enough. Worse yet, Mayer Brown was Illinois’ contracted bond counsel for a million a year.

Let’s just say the optics were bad.

And yes, I did write that Mayer Brown “was” the state’s bond counsel. The Quinn administration announced it has selected another firm, Chapman & Cutler, to serve in its place.

Thought you’d like to know that the right thing happened.

(Tip o’ the hat, once again, to Capitol Fax.)

Last Saturday on Facebook, I crafted a “status” asking where the City of DeKalb warming centers are. There was nothing on the city’s website or Facebook page about them, and the last council agenda seemed to have dispensed with the idea entirely.

Warming Centers
One of the current challenges faced with the moving of the Police Station is that the City Hall is no longer a 24/7 building. Because of that lack of 24/7 presence, the building can no longer be considered a 24 hour warming center. The building will continue to be a warming center during working hours. The City does not have another facility that is capable of performing this function on a 24 hour basis.

I didn’t watch the meeting, but I understand from someone who did that council did not end up designating the new police station — or any building — as the 24-hour warming center.

Anyway, about 3 p.m. yesterday the following was posted on DeKalb’s website and Facebook pages:

Due to the extreme cold weather and the National Weather Service wind chill warning, the City of DeKalb will be opening a warming center if the need is there. If you’re in need of shelter due to the weather, please contact Police Dispatch at 815.748.8400

If the need is there? How much more grudging can you get? Read the rest of this entry

When I told you about City of DeKalb’s policy to allow staff in administrative positions to bank comp time — as well as how much comp certain employees had accumulated — I could not include the comp and other accumulations of former city manager Mark Biernacki because he’d already cashed out in mid-June. But, here are the payout numbers for you. Read the rest of this entry

Via The Pantagraph today:

Ward 4 Alderman Judy Stearns on Dec. 6 filed a request for review with the Illinois attorney general’s public access counselor, which has since asked for more information from the city.

She alleged the council during a Nov. 15 closed session discussed issues not exempt from the state’s Open Meetings Act, including broad discussions of general hiring practices, a sought-after “culture change” and “why it is critical that the Council be totally united on the changes to be made, including the comment by our City Manager (David Hales) that a 5 to 4 vote is not acceptable.”

The other side of the story is that there may have been a couple of stray comments about policy in the midst of a discussion of specific employees. Discussion of individuals is an allowed exemption to OMA.

However, Ald. Stearns lists in the Request for Review seven non-exempt topics she says were discussed during the closed session. Stearns said she eventually left the closed session due to the non-exempt topics and that she has since consulted the Citizen Advocacy Center.

The required recording of the closed session will tell the tale to the PAC.

Don’t hold your breath for results, though. I’ve been waiting for an opinion on an OMA complaint for almost a year.

**Update 12/24 on the hearing: Kane County Chronicle reports that a decision on the campaign disclosure complaint against Show You Care Kane is not expected until next year.**

What would you say if Kish Health Systems were to send its chief executive to open and fund a political action committee (PAC) in order to promote passage of a referendum for a special property tax levy to fund its services?

That is NOT happening here, but a similar scenario IS shaping up for real in Kane County.

About a year ago, The Association for Individual Development (AID) in Aurora sent its president/CEO to head up a PAC called Show You Care Kane (SYCK). The stated purpose of the PAC is to “help children and adults with developmental disabilities” and The Chicago Tribune described some specifics in October:

Kane County voters could see a tax increase request on next spring’s ballot that would generate about $12 million annually for services for the developmentally disabled.

The proposal would tax property at 0.1 percent of its assessed value, and the money would be distributed by a disability board, made up of people from throughout the county, that would hire agencies to support independent living, jobs, therapy, transportation and supportive care for those with development (sic) disabilities.

Here’s what the Trib didn’t mention:

–AID has a $20 million annual operating budget and serves up to 5,000 clients each year. It would probably qualify for a big chunk of that $12 million considering there’s little competition within the county when it comes to DD adult services.

Show You Care Kane is funded either exclusively or very near exclusively by AID.

–SYCK used $73,000 of a $76,000 contribution from AID to pay a professional company to collect the number of signatures needed to place the referendum question on the ballot.

If I hadn’t dug up these things, I’d be inclined to treat the “disability tax” effort as grassroots. All I smell so far is artificial turf.

Yet, for all of its synthetic sophistication, SYCK will appear before the State Board of Elections tomorrow on a complaint that it did not properly report contributions to its PAC on two occasions. Read the rest of this entry