Let Your Voice Be Heard

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On April 10th residents who reside in DeKalb township will have a historic opportunity to participate in one of the only remaining forms of pure democracy that still exists and it only happens once a year. If you are a registered voter in the city of DeKalb, you will have the opportunity to vote to place three very important advisory referenda questions on the November general election ballot.

  1. “Shall the City of DeKalb continue to operate as a City Manager form of government?”
  2. “Shall the City of DeKalb continue to be a Home Rule city?”
  3. “Should the DeKalb Public Library become a library district instead of a municipal library?”

All three of these issues have been intensely discussed by the citizen’s of DeKalb and DeKalb Township for quite some time, but local leaders, including DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen have chosen to ignore the discussion. The irony is that Mayor Povlsen constantly insists that he wants to hear from the public on important issues affecting the city, but when citizens come forward at city council meetings and express an opinion that he disagrees with, Mayor Povlsen will often ignore or lecture the speaker. Too an extreme, a few weeks ago, he had representatives from the NIU center for Black Studies escorted out of the city council chambers by police.  A travesty!

Two weeks ago, after the Mayor became aware that the citizens of DeKalb township were considering putting these advisory referenda on the agenda for approval at the April 10th Township Annual meeting, he resorted to name calling in an unsolicited angry E-mail sent to me from his official City of DeKalb e-mail account. This conduct not appropriate for a sitting Mayor.

Last week,  the mayor also indicated he was having the city attorney look into the validity of these referenda –  A waste of  city time, resources and taxpayer dollars.  He also referred those who seek to have these  issues heard are “a group of obstructionists”.  This mayor clearly has his head buried in the sand. We need to send our mayor and city council a message.

I would like to encourage every registered voter in DeKalb to come to the Annual Township Meeting  at the township offices 2323 S. Fourth St. (R. t23)  on April 10th at 7pm and vote ‘YES’ on these three referenda.

Mark Charvat

14 COMMENTS

  1. I had to chuckle when I read Jennifer’s comment:

    “Unlike decisions made by most local governments, Township decisions are made by any and all of the electorate (ie residents) who show up at the annual meeting. Usually attendance is sparse so that a handful of non-elected individuals can determine outcomes, irrespective of what other citizens or elected officials wish.”

    This is the way government SHOULD be done… one person, one vote… “a handful of non-elected individuals” is put out there like it is an abhorrence… How DARE they attempt to govern! They were not elected!!

    IMHO, the people who get elected seem to put themselves on a pedestal and assume that we will admire them for their position. Nope, sorry… not in my world.

  2. Well we will all get to meet Tuesday night.

    Frankly when Mac was trying to gather signatures to get (and failed) a binding referendum on the ballot I had mixed emotions. On the one hand I support home rule but on the other it does make sense to always think about governmental structures. A full debate on the topic when a binding referendum was in front of us could have been exciting.

    But to back door the issue in through an obsolete form of local government on a non binding referendum will take time and energy away from more constructive political activities, time that many of us do not have.

    What bothers me is that Mac et al. are angry at specific actions undertake by the Mayor and the Manager and so rather than working to replace each are trying to change the form of government to me that is a throwing out the baby with the bath water situation.

    Ironically I am working on (more than) two local political issues at the current moment. Working to stop what to me are the waste of time referenda (that is agreeing with the mayor) mean while on a substantive issue working even harder to oppose some ideas of the manager backed by the mayor. But to me that is what representative democracy is all about. I often feel that democracy to mac means listening to mac rather than to what the representatives of the majority have decided.

    If this referenda effort had been suggested as an initial attempt to change structure I still would oppose it but would be sympathetic to the effort, just as I was actually supportive (including letters to council) on Mac’s redistricting idea.. But given that this township based non binding referenda t is one more effort after failed attempts to win council seats, to garner signatures, to elect a mayor, to impose one’s will at meetings at which opposition did occur, I wonder about whether it is simply an expediency.

    If Lynn (who placed third) had won as mayor and your candidates for council had won, would the same group of people be so enthused about changing structure: I doubt it. Expediency is being disguised as principal and that bothers me immensely.

    Anyway someone ought to let Eric know that he should make sure the township has enough space for those who could turn out. Mac is the web consultant for the township so probably has the best contacts to do so.

    • I speak only for me. I think its the form of government as practiced by the City of DeKalb that led to the specific actions that people are upset with.

      The system as practiced by the City of DeKalb places obstacles in the path of a democratically elected represented government. It pits highly compensated trained professionals against low paid highly stressed elected board members in policy development.

      Some are so worried about the potential lack of competency of elected officials that an upcoming action item for the DeKalb city council requires simple majority vote to place a binding question to remove an elected position in favor of an appointed one on the November ballot. Such a question during a federal general election when people are focused on national issues. Oh my.

      Citizens speaking up with authority to let their elected representatives know that an issue is important to them and how they feel about it is “an obsolete form of local government” to Herb Rubin et al. Those, like me, who believe America must return to its We the People roots disagree.

      I’ll help anyone(s) who wants to circulate petitions to get the Home Rule or City Manager question on the November ballot as a binding referendum. There’s plenty of time. Last day to file petitions for referenda is Aug 6, 2012. The weather is nicer for walking. And because the issue will be determined in November, April candidates for city council won’t have to answer questions like “is Home Rule good?”

      Instead we can ask them how they will govern according to the democratic will of the people.

  3. You’re absolutely right Mac. In all fairness she has every right to support or condemn the vote and explain her reasoning just like Mark. However it seems awfully strange that so many people (city being one) are so concerned with something that amounts to nothing more than a public opinion poll.

  4. and from the other side of this coin…

    Dear Fellow Resident,

    I am reaching out to you this evening to ask you to join me in taking a stand as residents of DeKalb to ensure all of our voices are heard on matters that impact our City. I know we have barely had a chance to catch our breath after the recent primary elections, but your participation is truly needed…after-all how often do I send you messages like this?

    The DeKalb Township is holding its annual meeting on Tuesday, April 10 . One individual has asked the Township to put 3 non-binding referendum questions about the City of DeKalb (not the Township) on the November 2012 ballot: one to eliminate home rule for the city of DeKalb, a second to eliminate the city manager form of government in DeKalb and the third to change the legal form of the local library district in DeKalb. Many of us are residents of the City of DeKalb and the DeKalb Township and will be able to participate in this vote, but note I wrote “many” not all. This is a problem. If these 3 questions were to be put on the November ballot by the Township, only those of us who are Township residents will be allowed to vote on on the issues. While they are non-binding questions, every resident should still be afforded the right to express their opinion on issues that impact their community. Not all residents of DeKalb are residents of the Township, therefore some residents will be excluded from expressing their democratic right to voice their opinion on matters that will affect them as residents of the City of DeKalb. These 3 questions involve key issues about how we govern ourselves….should’nt we all have a say in that?

    I acknowledge the right of a resident of the DeKalb Township to ask the Township to add non-binding questions to elections ballots. The ability to discuss government in a public forum is a fundamental democratic right that we should all hold dear. However, if the citizens of DeKalb are to have a conversation about issues impacting our city, then every resident should be allowed to participate in the conversation and cast their vote. In this case, the Township ballot question mechanism will exclude some residents of DeKalb from participating in the process and from having their voices heard about important issues that affect them. And vice versa, residents who don’t live in DeKalb, but who do live in the Township will be able to impact an opinion about how DeKalb citizens should be governed.

    As residents we decide what the Township will put on the ballot by a vote of the people at the Annual Township Meeting on Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at 2323 South 4th Street in DeKalb.

    Unlike decisions made by most local governments, Township decisions are made by any and all of the electorate (ie residents) who show up at the annual meeting. Usually attendance is sparse so that a handful of non-elected individuals can determine outcomes, irrespective of what other citizens or elected officials wish. I am asking that you and those you know show up at the Township Meeting this Tuesday at 7 at the Township Office on South 4th Street — April 10 at 7:00pm at 2323 S. Fourth St. Dekalb Illinois 60115 to vote down the suggestion to have an advisory referendum. I would also request that you share this note with others whom you feel might be interested.

    If you have questions, please feel free to call or email me. Thank you for your time and I hope to see you at the Township meeting!

    Jennifer L. Groce

    • While they are non-binding questions, every resident should still be afforded the right to express their opinion on issues that impact their community.

      YES, it would be nice if all residents of DeKalb were afforded the right to express their opinion on these issues. Problem is… our Aldermen refuse to put those questions up for all of us to vote on and any time a citizen tries… their efforts are heavily thwarted by those in office.

      I’m not sure what you all are afraid of since these referendums are non-binding but me thinks you protest too much.

      • 900 citizens of DeKalb signed a petition to put the Home Rule question up for referendum yet our Mayor and Aldermen refused to even put the issue on the agenda. A simple majority of the council could have put the question on the ballot as a binding referendum. They refused to even talk about it. Those 900 people were completely ignored!!

        Several aldermen ran on the platform to get rid of our City Manager yet once elected, refuse to discuss the issue. The questionable actions of the Library are totally ignored by the City, perhaps leaving the citizen’s to pay for their actions.

        Now in an attempt for a NON_BINDING referendum Jennifer (NIU Center for Government Studies) and the City of DeKalb are making an all out effort to thwart that action as well. Seems to me, again, you are all afraid of what the citizens REALLY think because you refuse to let them speak!

  5. FOLLOW UP: It has come to my attention that Jennifer Groce Of ReNEW DeKalb has been send out a misleading e-mail to many members of the DeKalb community designed to scare residents into coming out and voting “NO” .Ms Groce should be ashamed of herself. I hope she is not using Chamber resources or Re:NEW DeKalb resources to convey her messages.

    • Democracy is ruled by those who show up, Mark. Jennifer Groce is exercising her right to get supporters for her view on the issue to show up and vote just as you are yours. And Jennifer no longer works for ReNEW DeKalb. She is an employee of NIU.

      I stand by my prediction that the 2012 DeKalb Township Annual Meeting will set records for attendance.

      I will be there and I am voting YES to two of the three questions.

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