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Dropouts Throw Support Behind Reform Candidates For Village Council

As long-term residents, we love Downers Grove and this community. But recently, we have been extremely concerned about the actions of our local government.

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We have seen our village council force small businesses to remove historic and unobtrusive signs, waste months discussing a simple chicken ordinance, and seek to spend $52 million of our money to build an extravagant new village hall and other facilities. It became clear to us that the village council was not listening to residents and small businesses, so we decided in November to put our names forward as candidates to represent our community on the village council.

However, since we submitted our petitions, we have learned more about the other individuals also seeking to serve the residents and reform our village council.

After much consideration, we decided last week to withdraw our names from the ballot to support Gina Vattimo, William Waldack and Bill White, instead of working against these like-minded candidates. Gina, Bill and Bill were instrumental in fighting for the resident’s right to vote on the facilities referendum and oppose the extravagant $52 million new village hall and other new government buildings. We are confident that Gina, Bill and Bill will provide the thoughtful and responsive village council representation we deserve as residents of this wonderful community.

As residents and voters, we now have a clear choice in this election. Do we support two incumbents who have given us a dysfunctional and unresponsive village council? Or, do we support the resident-focused leadership which Gina Vattimo, William Waldack and Bill White will bring to our Village Council? The choice is obvious.

Please join us in voting for reform and supporting Gina Vattimo, William Waldack and Bill White for Downers Grove Village Council on April 7.

Patty & Taylor Murphy

 

A PLAIN AND UNMISTAKABLE CONFLICT OF INTEREST

matin

Most politicians clamor for any endorsement they can get. But I turned one down. Let me tell you why.

In December 2014, shortly after they invited me to participate in a mayoral candidate endorsement process, I advised the DG Professional Firefighters Union Local 3234 (“DGPFF”) that I respectfully declined to participate in that process because I believed it presented a conflict of interest and might run counter to the Village’s 2007 Ethics Ordinance, which prohibits Village officials from soliciting or receiving anything of substantial value from an organization doing business with the Village.

More specifically, in a December 19, 2014 email to the DGPFF, I applauded the organization’s civic involvement and acknowledged that I had received and celebrated the DGPFF’s endorsement in prior elections for the office of Village Commissioner. Moreover, serving as a Commissioner for eight years and then as Mayor for nearly four, I relayed my deep appreciation for the positive and professional working relationship that the Village Council and staff enjoy with the DGPFF.

However, in that same email, I also noted that, today, public distrust of government at many levels is at an all-time high. Although residents recognize what an excellent fire department we have, they are sensitive to any potential tax increases and expect impartial and above-board checks and balances to be in place. In the current environment, I am deeply concerned that our residents would take exception to candidates for Mayor — the Village’s chief executive officer — seeking and receiving the endorsement of a collective bargaining unit within the Village. Rightly or wrongly, the seeking and receiving of endorsements for that office may be perceived as a conflict of interest between persons who negotiate on behalf of the taxpayers and those who negotiate on behalf the local firefighters’ union. Indeed, in a similar setting, State Representative Ron Sandack aptly described in a recent Facebook post “the plain and unmistakable conflict that arises when public unions get governors elected via huge political contributions and electioneering; and then those very friendly parties meet at the collective bargaining table to ‘negotiate’ favorable contracts … at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Furthermore, and although not specifically applicable here, the Village Officials and Employee Ethics Act (the “2007 Ethics Ordinance”) and the Standard for Village Council Campaign Finance Practices policy (the “2007 Campaign Practices Policy”) that were both adopted in October 2007 provide additional guidance and reason for caution. Generally speaking, the Village’s 2007 Ethics Ordinance prohibits any Village official or employee from soliciting or receiving anything of substantial value from any individual or organization that does or seeks to do business with the Village. The ethics ordinance lists among the prohibited sources of such contributions anyone who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the official duties of the Village officer or employee. The 2007 Campaign Practices Policy likewise prohibits the solicitation or receipt of campaign contributions from individuals or entities doing business with or seeking to do business with the Village. The spirit and intent of both the Ethics Ordinance and Campaign Practices Policy would similarly advise against the seeking or giving of any endorsements (which are presumably perceived as something of value to candidates) from or by a collective bargaining unit of the Village, which regularly does business with the Village and whose interests will be substantially affected by the performance of the official duties of Village councilmembers. Again, regardless of whether the Ethics Ordinance, Council policy, or any exceptions thereto actually apply here, we know too well that perception is often reality for many. We also pride ourselves on going above and beyond to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

While I salute the DGPFF’s civic engagement and its members’ courageous, dedicated service to our community, I advised them that I firmly believed it may do harm to the well-earned reputations of both their organization and my office for me, as the sitting Mayor, to participate in the DGPFF’s candidate endorsement process. Indeed, I feared it would send a very wrong message to the community. Therefore, in my December 19th email to the DGPFF, I advised them that I respectfully declined to participate. Of course, I assured the DGPFF that I did not want my decision to in any way undermine the excellent, professional relationship that we have built and enjoyed for many years. Indeed, I suggested that the DGPFF reconsider offering candidate endorsements for any Village elected offices for the reasons given above. But I received no response to either my suggestion or concerns.

Since then, an article appeared in the February 4, 2015 print edition of the Downers Grove Bugle announcing that the “Firefighters’ union endorses Neustadt.” This was odd, to begin with, since it failed to mention that I had declined to participate and that the person endorsed was the only one to seek the endorsement. Further, none of the conflict of interest or ethical issues were mentioned, much less addressed. Instead, the article stated that DGPFF “supports candidates who work to support the union.” The article went on to state that Mr. Neustadt was endorsed because he has stood by the union “at every turn” and “ha[s] their back every step of the way.” We should all be deeply concerned by my opponent’s disregard for the “plain and unmistakable” conflict of interest and ethical questions that his seeking and accepting the union’s endorsement presents.

Rest assured, while my opponent may have secured an endorsement that he alone sought by promising to “work to support the union,” I will work hard to support the best interests of the taxpayers of Downers Grove, while also continuing to foster a good working relationship with our exceptional firefighters. Please remember that when you go to the polls on April 7th. Please also know that I have your back.

Martin Tully – Mayor

Website: http://martintullycom.ipage.com

Some residents of Downers Grove subdivision don’t want sidewalks

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Some residents of Clyde Country Estates, a rustic neighborhood with curved streets and mature trees in Downers Grove, don’t want sidewalks and are asking the village not to install them. The village plans to start the infrastructure project in May. It will include new streets and stormwater remediation.

But 55 homeowners in the 65-house subdivision have signed a petition asking the village not to fund the portion of the project that would add sidewalks on one side of every street.

Downers Grove District 99 seeks zoning change for digital signs

“This neighborhood was designed without sidewalks,” resident Mike Salazar said. “They’re not necessary for public safety; they would ruin trees and reduce stormwater absorption.”

He said the sidewalks would take away from the charm of the subdivision that was constructed in the 1950s.

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Gateway Sign Discussion Continues

Latest iteration of the ongoing gateway sign discussion. Focus on the frame, not the placard which is just a placeholder.

monument  monument2

Candidates Visit With DG Watch Board

Village council candidates William Waldack and Gina Vattimo visit with the Downers Grove Watch Board to discuss the upcoming election and their position on subjects and issues important to village residents.

The issue revolving around the proposed $52 million dollar village facility project was front and center as a passionate concern about cost and viability.  The consensus was that the project has too many moving parts and unsubstantiated projections. Both candidates suggested alternative solutions that should be investigated and considered.

Both candidates expressed that they wish residents to be inclusive in village affairs and seek greater transparency on the council.

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Save 942 Maple in Downers Grove, Interview with Douglas E. Gilbert

Local RadioShack stores on closure list after bankruptcy filing

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Ten RadioShack stores in the western suburbs are slated for possible closure after the technology retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday, according to a statement and information on the RadioShack website.

The affected local stores are among the nearly 1,800 possible closures of RadioShack’s 4,000 company-owned U.S. locations.

RadioShack reached an agreement to sell up to 2,400 of its U.S. company-owned stores to Standard General, which plans to work with Sprint to establish a “store within a store” presence in up to 1,750 of the acquired stores, according to the website.

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Downers Grove mulls changes to ordinance on historic landmark status

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Officials in Downers Grove say preserving historic houses and creating historic districts can maintain the village’s architectural charm and history. They also say doing so could have other benefits such as keeping its shopping and retail districts vital.

The village has had an ordinance on the books for seven years that outlines how homeowners can seek landmark status for their historic houses and how historic districts can be created.

But in that time, only two houses have been approved for landmark status, and no historic districts have been created.

That’s a problem say some officials, who want to amend the ordinance to make it more attractive to homeowners who want to preserve their vintage houses or create an historic district in the 183-year-old community.

“The fact that we’ve got only two homeowners who’ve voluntarily sought landmark designation shows me we’ve got to make landmark designation more appealing,” Commissioner Bob Barnett said.

The two houses with landmark status are at 5256 Carpenter St. and 4943 Highland Ave.

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Resident Coalition to Inform Voters Regarding Downers Grove Election

DG4RG distributes questionnaire to all candidates running for Mayor and Council

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DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – The Downers Grove for Responsible Government (DG4RG) coalition today announced the distribution of a questionnaire to all candidates running to represent the people of Downers Grove on the Village Council. The questionnaire was sent to both candidates for Mayor and all eight candidates for Commissioner.

“The purpose of our questionnaire is to help further inform Downers Grove residents on the various positions and priorities of each candidate as residents make their selections in April,” said DG4RG Co-Chairman Tim Werner. “We look forward to receiving responses from the candidates.”

Tim Harms, DG4RG Co-Chairman, noted, “Downers Grove residents will have the opportunity to vote on the referendum question which was placed on the ballot through the work of this coalition. They should also be able to make an informed choice for their representation on the Village Council.”

The responses provided by each candidate, combined with available public records, will form the basis for endorsements DG4RG plans to make in advance of the April election.

The DG4RG coalition is comprised of Downers Grove residents who believe in transparent, responsible and responsive government which reflects the will of the people it represents. With the signed support of over 3,000 Downers Grove residents, the coalition last month successfully placed a referendum on the April ballot to give residents a voice in the decision regarding the proposed new Village facilities project.

Residents interesting in becoming involved with the DG4RG coalition should visit the website at www.DG4RG.com or contact the coalition directly at DG4ResponsibleGovernment@gmail.com.

Downers Grove battles aftermath of blizzard

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By KELLI MURRAY – kmurray @shawmedia.com

DOWNERS GROVE – The blizzard that hit the Chicago area dumped 19.1 inches of snow on Downers Grove on Saturday evening through late Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Ricky Castro, a meteorologist with the service in Chicago, said the snowfall totals for DuPage County have surpassed a foot.

“Some of the high amounts we’re seeing over the two days is 15 to 19 inches,” he said.

Winfield had the highest recorded snow in the county at 19.2 inches.

Village snow plow crews have been working since 8 p.m. Saturday, according to Director of Public Works Nan Newlon.

“We have had 12-hour shifts running continuously since the storm started,” she said. “We have 16 drivers on the road at any given time, covering 10 snow plow routes.”

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