First off, I want to follow up on the question of repealing home rule in Mt. Vernon. Voters defeated the challenge, meaning home rule is retained. High profile business backers, a core group of “Vote No” volunteers plus use of social media are credited with the success.

While the Mt. Vernon pro-home rule group won with 57% of the vote, there was a veritable smackdown by 70% of voters of the proposition to make the city clerk’s office in DeKalb an appointed one. It’s difficult not to look at this as a referendum on city administration, and on the performance of city manager Mark Biernacki in particular. Let him laugh at the suggestion that the ballot question was an attempted power grab — that doesn’t make it untrue.

With the retention of an elected city clerk, congenitally optimistic residents like me can hope for a real watchdog in the position.

Lastly, I’d like to note that City Barbs is now seven years old.

Treat this as an open thread if you like. Name yer topic.

We’re doing a brisk business today in searches for Corn Fest postings, particularly financial reports. Hitting the Corn Fest tag will present them in a pleasing reverse chronology for you. Enjoy!

Of course I’m talking about the grand opening of the Nippon Sharyo railcar manufacturing plant and the potential birth of a supply chain cluster.

And they don’t even have Home Rule!

Let’s treat this as an open thread.

New Threads at the FB Page

A couple of members of the City Barbs Blog Facebook Page have begun new threads this week, so if you haven’t visited in awhile…

Consider this space an open thread for comments also, particularly if you have story ideas.

What I’m Reading

I’ve been distracted lately from local blogging by questions of macroeconomic policy, the odds of a double dip and the latest developments in the class war.

The Panic of 1873 and the Causes which Produced It

GAO audit of emergency assistance authorized by the Federal Reserve

Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American

Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

The Profession and the Crisis

What are you reading? Feel free to add your own links in the comments section.

What a lovely surprise.

I can’t wait! I can’t wait for the rollbacks to begin of the tax and fee hikes our city council has approved since 2008 to keep afloat. Shall we start with the property tax, sales tax, restaurant and bar tax, hotel-motel tax, utility tax or the first gas tax hike? When will we hear the glad news that the rest of the planned water rate hikes have been canceled?

Or maybe instead, we could re-hire the 50+ people we’ve let go.

Or maybe, just maybe, this is propaganda, groundwork to justify more planned employee raises; and some parties are swallowing it hook, line and sinker.

And afterward, whatever budgetary badness happens will be something that “nobody could foresee.”

City Manager Oversteps His Bounds

During the April 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, the DeKalb City Council discussed whether to outsource any or all of its legal services. Here’s how it ended.

MOTION
Ald. Gallagher moved to direct staff to prepare a Request for Proposal, using Version #1 to out source the City Attorney’s position; seconded by Ald. Verbic.

AMENDED MOTION
Ald. Baker moved to direct staff to prepare two (2) Requests for Proposals, using Version #1 to out source the City Attorney’s position and Version #2 to outsource the entire Legal Department. Motion failed for lack of a second.

VOTE
Motion carried 4-3 on roll call vote. Aye: Simpson, Verbic, Gallagher, Kammes. Nay: Teresinski, Naylor, Baker. Mayor Povlsen declared the motion passed.

Clearly, the vote directed staff to prepare an RFP for partial outsourcing. Now we see this in the April 25 agenda:

4) RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER OF THE CITY OF DEKALB, ILLINOIS TO ISSUE A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS ATTORNEY SERVICES. The City Council previously discussed the outsourcing of the City Attorney’s duties and responsibilities, and directed that a Request for Proposal (RFP) be issued soliciting private contractors to perform these services. Circumstances have since changed necessitating a modification of these RFPs to instead solicit private contractors to perform all of our legal services, not just those assigned to the City Attorney.

The resolution appears on the consent agenda, so the city manager doesn’t think his decision is up for discussion. However, circumstances don’t get to change how the city manager carries out the council’s directions. Council gets to do that. In open session. Council members should pull this item from the consent agenda and put the smack down on this violation of their purview. Read the rest of this entry

A special meeting Monday of the DeKalb City Council and the Financial Advisory Committee is set to examine two Municipal Building remodeling/building options with emphases on police station space needs and improved access for people with disabilities.

The Good
One of the options presented includes a proposal to sell off city property worth $2.2 million to help finance a renovation and addition.

The Bad
We don’t know where the rest of the money will come from. Perhaps some bucks have been “freed up” by the debt restructuring. After paying some employees twice for not working and having the General Fund balance dip to $22,000 recently, it’s uncertain whether they can make a solid case for it, though. Read the rest of this entry

Redistricting Clock is Ticking

Recently while doing some lookups in Chapter 3 of the Municipal Code, I came across this:

3.02-5 REDISTRICTING THE CITY.

The wards of the City of DeKalb as heretofore established and as may hereafter be established shall be reapportioned according to population. In the formation of the reapportioned wards the population of each shall be as nearly equal as possible, and the wards shall be of as compact and contiguous territory, as possible.

The method for reapportionment shall be as follows:

That whenever pursuant to Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, there shall be taken an actual Enumeration within every ten years in such manner as the Congress of the United States shall by law direct, the City Council shall, by using the census tracts derived from said Enumeration, apportion the population among the wards accordingly. Said reapportionment of population shall be completed within two years following the Federal decennial year and no later than October 1 of the current year (1972) and by that day and month every subsequent ten years hereafter.

Yesterday John Acardo, DeKalb County Clerk, confirmed that the city must have its redistricting done by October 2012. The Clerk’s office has a redistricting manual for municipalities available.

Let’s make this an open thread. Feel free to comment on yesterday’s elections, anything.

Found: DeKalb Zombies!

The Zombies of DeKalb group is planning a walk the evening of April 16. Over 500 people have signed up so far.

The organizers are the most thoughtful of undeadheads. They have a long list of guidelines for the walk, including admonishments not to hold up traffic while street-crossing (shuffle faster!) nor to bleed on DeKalb sidewalks.

Be still my heart.
zombie baby

Links:

DeKalb Zombie Walk 2011

Zombies! tag related posts

[H/T Kay Shelton.]