"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."- Margaret Mead

Monthly archives for February, 2015

FORMER SEN. COBURN JOINS ‘AMERICAN TRANSPARENCY’ TO OPEN GOV’T BOOKS

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Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who highlighted wasteful government spending throughout his career, is joining the activist group American Transparency as its Honorary Chairman.

“Open the Books is doing the work I envisioned when the Coburn-Obama transparency bill became law,” Coburn says in a statement. “Their work is so important because so few groups – or elected officials – do it, and fewer do it well.”

Coburn’s landmark legislation, the “Google Your Government Act,” co-sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama, forced public disclosure of almost all federal government spending. American Transparency’s “Open The Books” project extends this idea through a searchable public database of nearly all federal and state government spending.

The database, which can be accessed through a mobile App, documents “all disclosed federal spending- contracts, loans, grants, farm subsidies, direct payments, insurance payments, salaries and bonuses since the year 2000.” It includes spending from 48 of 50 states and more than 500,000 local units of government.

“During my service I saw how small reforms, and discoveries, can generate huge savings and create greater opportunity and freedom for all Americans,” Coburn said. “I’m encouraged that Open the Books is accepting this challenge.”

The Open the Books project has documented potentially fraudulent farm subsidy payments and Small Business Administration loans.

“At OpenTheBooks.com, we are committed to carrying forward Coburn’s robust legacy,” said Adam Andrzejewski, Chair of American Transparency. “We deeply appreciate Dr. Coburn’s courage, principles and national leadership and are extremely privileged to have him as our Honorary Chairman.”

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Read More: Breitbart

Resident Coalition Recommends “No” Vote on Referendum Question

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Village Council’s proposed Facilities Plan is not right for the community

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Since successfully submitting petitions to place a referendum question on the ballot, the Downers Grove for Responsible Government (DG4RG) coalition has extensively reviewed the Village Council’s proposed “Facilities Plan”, spoken with thousands of residents, and consulted with experts. Based on all available information, DG4RG has concluded that the proposed plan is not right for our community.

The current “Facilities Plan” supported by a majority of the Village Council involves the construction of a new police station, fire station, and fleet services facility on a currently vacant site on the south side of Ogden Avenue near Lacey Road, the sale of a portion of the existing Civic Center property in downtown Downers Grove for multi-family residential development, and the construction of a new Village Hall on the remainder of the existing Civic Center property. The total estimated cost of this project has risen to more than $52 million.

DG4RG does recognize the need to address municipal facilities issues, especially the police station. However, after review, DG4RG believes this “Facilities Plan”:

– Is too expensive and an unwise use of taxpayer dollars, especially with imminent reductions in state funding to municipalities

– Prioritizes “nice-to-have” facilities over critical municipal services

– Improperly uses economic development tax funding (TIF) to construct government buildings

– Subjects taxpayers to excessive risk – including environmental, financial, and commercial risks

Therefore, DG4RG urges a “No” vote on the advisory referendum question which will appear on the April 7th ballot asking: “Shall the Village of Downers Grove spend $46 million dollars or more to construct a new Village Hall, Police Station, and Fire Station?”

Additional information regarding the Facilities Plan and the DG4RG position on this plan will be available on the DG4RG website at www.DG4RG.com.

The Downers Grove for Responsible Government (DG4RG) coalition was formed by Downers Grove residents who believe in transparent, responsible and responsive government which reflects the will of the people it represents. In 2014, DG4RG brought together over 50 volunteers and gathered the support of more than 3,000 residents to place a referendum on the ballot – giving residents a voice regarding the proposed new Village Hall and Police Station.

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

Clean Slate is endorsed by leading COD Trustee Kathy Hamilton

Clean Slate is endorsed by leading COD Trustee Kathy Hamilton. It will:

End the corruption of the Breuder era.

Enrich students education and experiences, not insiders.

Run COD openly and transparently for students, teachers, and taxpayers.

Halt property tax and tuition hikes for at least two years.

http://cleanslateforcod.com/home.html

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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

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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.

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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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