By: Diane Benjamin
Citizens have a right to know what their government is doing. Obviously both local governments don’t think you have that right – just look at the North Main Property the City of Bloomington has $1.4 million tied up in. The City purchased the land a year ago without ever saying why.
Now the tax-sharing Metro-Zone controversy has appeared. It didn’t come out of nowhere, both cities have know about it for months. Governments that want to spend more and more have to find the money somewhere, Bloomington now wants to cut Normal out of getting their share under the 30-year-old agreement. (thank Jesse Smart for this one)
Most of the properties generating tax receipts are in Bloomington. Normal was already hurting from Kroger crossing the street to Bloomington without them being told, now more pain courtesy of Bloomington. Add the complete waste of money subsidizing Portillo’s because it won’t be the destination they dreamed of, and Normal could be in serious trouble.
Here’s a bigger problem. Why didn’t you know anything was happening? I thought Tari claimed to be open and transparent.
You don’t know because all of the Council discussions took place in secret – Executive Session. The Open Meetings Act requires very specific reasons for talking about things in secret. Since this issue has NEVER been discussed in public, all the Council discussions took place in private. The reason for many recent Executive Sessions has been “pending litigation”. How did this issue go from “being discussed” to pending litigation without the public being informed. Is Bloomington so desperate for money they just started a war with Normal before letting the public in on their plan?
A public presentation of the issues should have been made long before now. Representatives of both sides should have appeared in Open Session at a Council meeting. Keep in mind this Council votes to NEVER release Executive Session minutes because they don’t want you to know what was said.
Did City lawyer Jeff Jurgens attend these secret meetings? Does he know the OMA law?
Just last Monday Bloomington held another Executive Session and used this excuse:
Of course, it can’t be proved because the Council will never release the minutes.
I wonder why Tari Renner decided to start a war with Normal in an election year. Are City finances that bad? Since no data is released anymore, we don’t know.
One more waste of money:
Monday night the Council decided (illegally) not to take the advice of yet another consultant. Illegally because they casually voted not to use the consultants recommendation for designated truck routes. Votes can not be legally taken that aren’t on the agenda. Open Meetings Act violation number who knows!
The consultant was Lochmueller Group. I found this payment in January, but I have no way of knowing if this is only for the truck route work. Lochmueller gets hired frequently for research, remember David Hales can spend $50,000 without Council approval.
The Lochmueller report is 23 pages long, it’s included in the Monday documentation: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=12017