In the recent LWV Forum, Geoff Neustadt, candidate for Mayor of Downers Grove, made a talking point about the Village’s ethics ordinance, saying that he was proud to have been one of those who voted to adopt it.
Paragraph 6 of Exhibit 2 to the Official Village Policy Regarding Ethical Standards, adopted in October 2007, clearly states that: “Elected officials or their agents may not knowingly approach any Village employee to seek their signature on a nominating petition.”
In filing his nominating papers to run for Mayor, Mr. Neustadt appears to have violated that ordinance.
One of the nominating petitions that he filed to get himself on the ballot was not only signed by one of Downers Grove’s current police officers but was circulated by that same police officer for others to sign before he himself signed it, and then had his signature notarized (by Commissioner Becky Rheintgen) as a petition circulator. A copy of the petition, signed and circulated by Andrew Blaylock, appears below. Officer Blaylock is someone unquestionably known to Mr. Neustadt as an employee of the Village.
One could argue whether Mr. Neustadt “knowingly” knew of the nominating petition, but considering the notary, we suspect the candidate would have been privy when the petitions are scrutinized before submission.
The Downers Grove Watch expects strict adherence to Village ordinances as they relate to the campaigns of those running for office.
Public debates are an important part of the process in electing officials and getting perspective on candidates running for office. Candidates are encouraged to participate and devote the time to engage the public. The Downers Grove Watch is disappointed that the Neustadt campaign turned down the opportunity.
Bill Wrobel spoke to the Noon Lions Club at their Luncheon Meeting at Oak Trace Retirement Village in Downers Grove on March 10th, 2015 explaining the Activities and History of the WATCH as a “Watch DOG GROUP”.
His speech outlined the activities of the WATCH, such as placing the Home Rule Referendum on the Ballot for the Voters in 2006, hosting Teardowns and Taxes Forum, Meet the Candidate Election Forms, held at the Downers Grove Library and at Lincoln Center.
The WATCH appreciates the opportunity to interact and inform groups like the Downers Grove Lions about its activities and its newly formed Speakers Bureau is available to Church, Retirement, Homeowners and Civic Groups to make a 25 Minute presentation on request.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, is the last day to register or transfer registration for the April 7, 2015, Consolidated Election. Voter registration will reopen on Thursday, April 9, 2015.
To register, you must be 18 years of age on or before the election, be a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of DuPage County. Two forms of identification with current address are needed. Applicants may register at the following locations:
Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss
Downers Grove Village Hall, 801 Burlington
Downers Grove Township offices, 4340 Prince St.
Lisle Township offices, 4721 Indiana Ave, Lisle
York Township offices, 1502 Meyers Road, Lombard
DuPage Election Commission, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton
Downers Grove Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 2001 Butterfield Road, Suite 105 (Call first: 630-968-4050)
Grace Period Voting
The DuPage County Election Commission will offer “Grace Period Voting” beginning March 11, 2015 and ending April 4, 2015 at the Election Commission Office at 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton, IL. During this period, an individual may register to vote or transfer their registration and vote at the same time.
In February, Governor Rauner delivered an address on the proposed State of Illinois FY2015-16 budget, which includes several proposals that could impact local government. The most significant potential impact includes a reduction of the Income Tax distribution to local government by 50%. Under this proposal, the Village would receive approximately $2.4 million less in revenue annually. The State’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and budget appropriations must be approved by the General Assembly before being implemented. The Village has taken steps to prepare for potential loss of state shared revenue, as described in the Village’s Long Range Plan for 2013-2015, which identified this potential issue. In addition, the Village is responding in the following manner:
Implementing expense reductions that can be made with minimal impact on service levels in order to ensure that the Village’s operating expenses do not exceed revenues by the end of the current fiscal year. Examples of these expense reductions include delay filling certain vacant positions, defer vehicle replacement purchases, and review training policies/procedures and related expenses.
Developing a process to engage the Village Council during the Village’s Long-Range Planning (June-August) regarding service prioritization and potential reductions that might be required once the impacts of the approved State budget are known.
Working closely with other municipalities through the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference and Illinois Municipal League to describe the likely impact of these reductions in revenue to the Governor’s Office and General Assembly.
Support for the organization that for years claimed to be the voice and advocate for Downers Grove residents has floundered since being exposed for questionable endorsement practices.
Residents of Downers Grove have spoken by not participating in a process that was predetermined by DGCA leadership displaying personal signage, attending fundraisers of their chosen candidates, and having their names listed as supporters on candidate’s media venues.
The DGCA consequently had a sparse audience Saturday at their scheduled event billed as an “endorsement” interview for village council candidates.
Please follow these links below for candidates statements of candidacy, accomplishments, and their views on key Downers Grove issues. The best endorsement comes from the voting public and the ballot box.
Mayor Martin Tully said at Tuesday’s village council meeting the village will wait on any plans until after the state’s budget is finalized.
The facility upgrade would be a multi-phase, multi-year plan that would include constructing new police and fire stations and a new fleet maintenance garage on village-owned property on Ogden Avenue. It is currently in the conceptual phases.
After that construction, the village hall would be moved to a new location on its existing property and downsized.
According to council documents, the project was estimated to cost about $50 million.
Village Communications Director Doug Kozlowski said the project would replace antiquated facilities at the police and fire departments and allow for residential development on land where those facilities are currently located. No money has yet been spent on the project.
“It really hadn’t gotten that concrete,” Kowlowski said.
Deputy Village Manager Michael Baker gave a presentation Tuesday to address concerns about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget cuts. Those cuts include a 50 percent reduction in the distribution of state income tax revenues, which would result in a $2.4 million loss for Downers Grove by 2016.
Another proposal has emerged to save the historic Edwards House in Downers Grove.
As one effort spearheaded by a resident to relocate and renovate the Queen Anne-style house is apparently faltering, another resident, Judy Bach, has offered to preserve the house by moving it to a vacant lot she owns on Main Street just south of 55th Street.
Under Bach’s proposal, she would seek investors to cover the cost of moving the house and building a foundation for it if the village would agree to buy the house that it could then sell to a new owner.
Bach said Wednesday that she believes ultimately there would be a buyer for the house that was built in the late 1800s and was the first in the village to have running water. It originally was owned and named after W.H. Edwards, a prominent local business person who founded the village’s first bank in 1892.
She acknowledged her proposal would require the village to take on some risk, but if the house were sold, it would mean “no money would have to be given away by the village.”
Bach’s proposal comes after another resident John Tillotson and his wife, Lauri Wast, offered to move the house from its location at 942 Maple Ave. to property they own at 743 Maple Ave.
DGCA members and President, Dan Loftus, who recently has displayed an oversized “Geoff Neustadt for Mayor” campaign sign on his front lawn, invited Downers Grove Mayoral Candidate Martin Tully to a private candidates’ interview to be held on March 7, 2015. The implication, according to the DGCA invitation, was that the purpose of the interview was to “educate” members of the caucus on the competing candidates as part of a deliberative “process” leading the organization’s endorsement. Also implicit in the invitation was that caucus members’ endorsement selection was not pre-determined, but would be based on the candidate interview process. Problem is, President Loftus and other members of the caucus had already announced their preferences by displaying the campaign sign of their chosen candidate — well before any interviews even took place. So much for process.
Placing the cart before the horse puts into question the credibility of the organization which claims to be unbiased and working in the best interest of the voting public and the citizens of Downers Grove.
Several caucus members are sitting members of Village boards and commissions, and one is a sitting Village Commissioner, Robert Barnett who also recently displayed a Neustadt sign on the lawn of his personal residence.
The fact that these interviews are to held in private without recording or public viewing undermines the legitimacy of the process and should be construed as void of transparency.
When two high level caucus members of the DGCA have displayed a candidates campaign signage prior to “endorsement” interviews, that would suggest the DGCA has preemptively made their endorsement for Mayor.
The timeline of these events clearly shows a bias and reeks of impropriety placing the existence and purpose of the DGCA under scrutiny.