Elections ’11: Rob Fischer, candidate for DeKalb 5th Ward alderman

    Robert Fischer, candidate for DeKalb 5th Ward alderman

    Robert Fischer, candidate for DeKalb 5th Ward alderman

    A 2002 NIU graduate who has spent his life in DeKalb, Kane and Kendall Counties, Rob and his wife, Dana, are homeowners in DeKalb’s 5th Ward.  They have two Children, Antony and Natalie. They also have a pet Boston Terrier, Bugsy.

    Rob was previously a member of Hinckley’s Village Board of Trustees and was also the chair of the village’s Park Program. He also helped get the village involved in the Lincoln Highway Coalition and the Aurora Area Chamber of Commerce.

    He has been a territory manager for a manufacturers representative company for the last 7 1/2 years. This occupation has helped him see the differences in which both the private and public sector handle finances and other details.

    My two primary motivations in running for the 5th Ward Alderman’s seat are my son and my daughter. I want to make sure that they and all families have a safe, economically prosperous and stable city in which to call home.

    Throughout the last few years, we have seen our city council raise utility taxes, keep an elevated property tax rate levied despite falling home values while the council continued to neglect many facets of the safety of DeKalb’s residents.

    Businesses and residents do not want to establish operations or reside in communities that are deemed unsafe or that overwhelm their residents with taxes.

    While collecting signatures for my campaign, I heard from several residents who felt their voice was not being heard by City Hall. They felt as if their questions were not responded to in a timely fashion.

    As it is 2011, I will use common technological advances such as email and social networking to respond to residents’ concerns in a timely fashion…not a week later.

    As someone who is employed in the private sector, I would be fired if I didn’t do the same for my customers. Why don’t government officials do the same for their constituents?

    I also want to see DeKalb take advantage of the large pool of talent that leaves Northern Illinois University every year. As someone who stayed in DeKalb after graduation, I can attest that our city has many things to offer.

    I will have a Facebook page pertaining to my campaign available in the coming days. I look forward to answering any questions that may arise.


    1. You must be thinking of Carl, Nadine. But I am glad you asked, because it surely has cleared the air — and all other candidates should answer the same type of conflict-of-interest questions.

      It is apparent to me (via EDC) that some folks at city hall would love to create a S. 4th TIF. Mr. Biernacki has a business acquaintance who is organizing other south side business owners and who has come out in support of a TIF.

      I would not be surprised to find out that the Fairview annexations, the school district, and maybe even the WM proposed expansion have something to do with pushing for a south side TIF as well.

      Here are the problems I have with a new TIF.

      1) Timing. A S. 4th TIF would slurp property tax revenues from all local units of government during a time when they can least afford it. This includes starving our own city pension funds.

      2) Use of TIF specifically in DeKalb. The amended TIF 1 has spent millions on the downtown while the neighborhoods surrounding it, also in the TIF, continue to rot. TIF 2 should have been used to remodel the police station a dozen years ago when space needs first were recognized as a problem.

      3) Mark Biernacki. Remember when city staff pulled the Civic Campus Master Plan out of thin air? Who authorized it? Council did not ask it. Instead, Mr. Biernacki or designee worked it out with the library to split the cost of this unasked-for site plan, which conveniently put the city’s amount ($11,854.05) under the threshold at which it would have to come up for public debate and a vote. How often are TIF funds used for these little projects out of the public eye? I think very.

      4) The rationale is faulty. Sure, Protano’s needs to be cleaned up but nothing can happen until the estate is cleared up. And even then, TIF IS NOT THE VEHICLE FOR THIS KIND OF PROJECT. There are serious contaminants to a depth of 18+ inches and the cleanup would suck all the life out of the TIF. This is a job for a great big federal grant. When it’s time, put our well-compensated lobbyist on it.

      In short: I would fight a S. 4th TIF with everything I’ve got.

      • S 4th Street area needs investment so a source needs to be identified and developed. I agree with Lynn on 2.5 to 3.2 of her points. TIF is definitely not the source for the Protano property clean-up. I had heard that some federal brownfield money had been identified but that’s unconfirmed. I do agree with Rob Fischer that TIF is one of the most powerful tools municipalities have at their disposal to renovate neighborhoods. In my opinion a properly ran TIF program would not slurp tax revenues away from the other units but instead add to their revenue streams. But Lynn’s points 2 and 3 are spot on and cannot be tolerated AND it is an utter embarrassment for Tom Teresinski to continue to have his questions and requests unanswered as far as ongoing TIF and EAV evaluation reports. He made the request again at the last meeting and again was ignored.

        • Steve Berg commented elsewhere today about declining property values. This bolsters the argument about timing, and makes your observation about the 2nd Ward alderman’s inability to get reports a bit alarming. A new TIF would very likely fail — and are the current TIFs in trouble?

          • I believe a current analysis of EAV in TIF 1 and 2 would show underperformance in projections and a marked decline in EAV due to the Property Values Crash in this recession. And that’s bad news for taxpayers. But bankers only loan money when times are good. The downward trend in neighborhoods like S 4th could become a spiral if private investment into redevelopment remains nonexistent. I think TIF used like that in the Fargo Motors building in Sycamore has a trackable return on the TIF investment required. Pay as you go. It then becomes an enabler of private investment of the taxpaying kind.

    2. Thanks, Rob! Definitely some food for thought!

      So you don’t think we’ve over-used TIF in DeKalb?

      Do you know how many ex-city hall employees work at Baxter & Woodman without engineering degrees?

      Was there anything in Alderman Naylor’s accomplishments you appreciate?

    3. First of all, thanks to Mark for the kind words.

      Your questions answered:

      I, nor any of my friends or family members, have ever worked or currently work for Baxter. & Woodman or any department in City Hall.
      Considering I do not have a degree in engineering or geography, I doubt Baxter & Woodman would hire me even if I wanted to work for them.

      As far as “lowering myself”, it is us, the elected officials, who should be so lucky to have our constituents talk to us. As I mentioned, technology has made it easier and imperative
      to communicate quickly with our customers…you, the constituents.

      As far as safety, I’m currently looking at ordinances Aurora, Elk Grove Village and other municipalities have passed that have been effective in forcing landlords to be more accountable for and involved in screening tenants. Portions of the ordinances focus on drug, gang and “felony-based” activity.

      TIF’s are one of the most powerful tools municipalities have at their disposal to renovate neighborhoods. My wife and I were just talking the other day about how the city could use a Children’s’ Museum. Maybe something like that could be a catalyst (along with a TIF) for South 4th St. How much longer do we want to look at the old KFC building for?

      Hope this helps…more later.



    4. Has he ever worked with Baxter Woodman? Would he agree to never work there for 10 years following his departure from city service?

      How many relatives or friends does he have who work at city hall?

      Would he lower himself talk to citizens who don’t serve on committees or does he believe their voices don’t count?

      What is one thing he would do enhance safety since he mentions it?

      What does he think of establishing a TIF district to support the development of South Fourth Street?

      To keep things positive, what does he think his opponent’s best contribution has been?

      Thanks Mac and staff for doing these interviews! These are really enlightening!

    5. Had a chance to speak with Rob. He Would make a great Alderman in the 5th ward. He is truly concerned about the endless array of taxes that have been passed by his opponent and incumbent Ald Ron Naylor. He also had great concern about the non-stop spending at city hall.

      Good Luck Rob!

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