Normal – Part 2

By:  Diane Benjamin

Part 1:  https://blnnews.com/2019/06/04/a-three-minute-meeting-takes-almost-2-hours/

Craig Stimpert spoke about the proposed changes to Normal’s Public Comment policy.  See 16:45.  Two years ago Craig forced them to change their “only speak once in 45 days” rule.  He was back last night to request “germane to the agenda” be removed too.  He also objected to the 15 minute rule to sign up to speak.

The fun began when the Council was forced to discuss it by Karyn Smith.  If Karyn hadn’t pulled it, Stan Nord would have.

Keep in mind, the policy change was on the Omnibus Vote Agenda and would never have been discussed by the previous Council.

This discussion started at 1:07.  The written policy was revised but not included in the packet reflecting that people who want to speak can notify Pamela Recce by email or phone as well as sign up 15 minutes before the meeting.  The Council REFUSED to decrease the 15 minutes.  Craig Stimpert told them the Council members don’t have to come 15 minutes early, why should citizens?  This isn’t rocket science – all that happens is somebody walks the sign up sheet to Koos and he reads the names.  Need 15 minutes for that?  Nord wanted to give more citizens the right to speak unimpeded.  Smith’s amendment failed.

Smith then presented an amendment to strike “germane to the agenda”.  It also failed to pass even when the Council was told there was a question on the Open Meetings Act training giving an exact example where that policy was declared illegal by the Attorney General.  Pamela Reece claimed their current policy isn’t illegal.

When and if the Attorney General’s office ever gets around to ruling on Smith’s request for Review where she was denied the right to speak, citizens need to attend and snicker while Normal is forced yet again to comply with the law.  The Town policy is still illegal and they will be forced to change it.

Many of the Council members related their experiences listening to citizens.  They claim there is lots of opportunities, no need to remove “germane”.

Once again Council:  You might listen, but then you do whatever you want anyway.  Examples:  Mural. new Fire Station, 1 Uptown Circle, underpass, Trail East, need more?

They still don’t understand why they are staring at two new Council members.  

(all they know is they aren’t happy about it)

Also discussed were the Harmon Arts grants.  I predict both Nord and Smith will want giving away taxpayer money to select groups out of the next budget.

After the lengthy meeting a few Trustees gave their thoughts.  Kathleen Lorenz attempted to nicely tell the new members to knock it off.  Go back to 59:55 too.  Lorenz  tells Nord and Smith they should be watching for now instead of questioning.  If a third Nord-Smith minded person had been on the ballot last April, she would not be sitting there now.  Just hit Play:

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Normal – Part 2

  1. Diane – You are absolutely correct. If Karl Sila had been on the ballot instead of being a write-in, Kathleen (don’t call me Kathy) Lorenz would be off managing her non-profit instead of wasting taxpayer dollars and raising taxes. Kathleen… the days of “no questions asked” spending is OVER!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One thing to note that can’t be seen on the videos is that Dave Shields is now showing up to all the council meetings. I think he’s being used as sort of Koos’ attack dog in a way. He’ll sit back and take notes on Nord to I think fact check him. He probably also talks to the Mayor about it all. I’m sure he’s probably gearing up for another shot at Nord during another council meeting. Just an observation I’ve noticed lately.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Diane. I appreciate you highlighting this critically important part of last night’s meeting.

        I’m afraid a far bigger issue got lost in the weeds last night. The reason why I’ve been so actively involved in this issue for years now, and continue to stay engaged in it, is the issue of government by the people, for the people and of the people has seriously eroded in this debate.

        It is clear to me based on comments made last night, past quotes in news releases and the overall demeanor of Council members who appear to be greatly annoyed by this topic that the Council wishes to enact public comment rules by the Council, for the Council and of the Council. This is further reinforced by the fact that not a single citizen was consulted in the rewording of last night’s new policies that are clearly designed to limit public comment in whatever loop hole Council has left.

        Council members who want to emphasize their preference for one on one meetings over public comments at a public meeting diminish the significance of the public aspect that public comment ensures. Our system of government at its fundamental core assures people of the right to stand up and be counted with freedom from retribution of differing opinions. It’s not always agreeable, it’s often messy and it’s sometimes inefficient and inconvenient. But, it’s a freedom that must be protected and nowhere are the battle lines more clearly drawn than with respect to one’s approach to public comment.

        Rather than debate the merits of a two hour, 15 minute or even 1-minute timeframe for advanced sign up, I must ask why the need for an advanced notice at all. Public comment is on the Council agenda, why couldn’t the Mayor just ask if anyone wants to speak, have those people take turns coming up to the table and signing in when they get to the table? Since government belongs to the people of Normal, why do we have rules about what citizens can address about their government? In short, this is a question of governing or ruling verses representing the people. And that point, is what puts me at odds time and again with many a public official.

        For that, I must commend Stan Nord last night for clearly drawing a line in the sand wishing to err on the side of the people, rather than what’s convenient for the Council. I’m hopeful others on Council will cross over to Stan’s side of the line. Until then, and even after, I will continue to stay engaged.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. No political aspirations whatsoever, Jeff. What I hope to accomplish is to help people understand that a more important role in the political process, more important than holding political office, is being an engaged citizen. I think I can accomplish much more in my community by being a citizen that a political office holder.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathy states that the “finance people” have things UNDER CONTROL?? I don’t see WHERE in the heck she sees THAT AT! I don’t see $88 million in DEBT under control. I hope Kathy goes next!

    Like

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