Wednesday, December 30, 2009
One of the biggest challenges for the City of Aurora is how to reverse several problems on the Kane County portion of the city's east side, from chronic economic development challenges to aging infrastructure to an education system that has suffered from two decades of crisis.
And, for those who have not got the memo, the challenges of Aurora's near east side affect every taxpayer, not just those who live there.
While elected officials like 3rd Ward Party Girl Alderman Stephanie Kifowit are more concerned about going to parties than fixing her ward's problems on the near east side, taxpayers at least have taken control over the school board with sweeping changes.
Now, Dr. Jerome Roberts, East Aurora School District 131's Superintendent, will have his contract extended until 2014, which was previously set to expire in 2011. The compensation package for this year is about $215,000 and will increase by 4%.
So, how is East Aurora School District 131 doing in terms of progress? The new school board was elected to change the path of the district and put policies in place that will improve the future. Has the district administration responded with positive direction and results?
What else needs to happen to reverse the past and make East Aurora School District 131 a success story that will impact the future of students and the entire city?
The internet is buzzing about this "speech" by Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) who appeared to many to be drunk/intoxicated as he spoke about health reform last week. You decide...
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Texting, email and web access while driving will be banned in Illinois, effective January 1, 2010, although it's not clear how this law will be enforced given the exception to GPS and navigation systems.
Turning your radio dial, adjusting your rearview mirror, women applying lipstick and eating a burger are still legal for the moment.
However, everyone will be hit with massive fee increases, courtesy of temp Gov. Pat Quinn and the legislators that voted for it.
Fee increases include, but are not limited to:
License plate stickers will increase about 20% to $99 per year, fishing license goes to $14.50, deer permit to $25 and hunting license to $12.
Also, if you park on public streets in Chicago, be sure to thank Mayor Richard Daley for his parking meter fiasco that will see another increase of rates, effective January 1st.
Friday, December 25, 2009
With chances of getting stuck in an airport due to weather delays becoming more likely as a winter storm approaches, this might be the best gift possible to give to our viewers who might be planning holiday travel.
Between now and January 15, 2010, Google Airport Wifi will be offered FREE (that's really free) in 54 airports across America (sorry, not Chicago thanks to Mayor Daley) and all Virgin America flights. Yes, that means OpenlineBlog.com will be available in the air :)
>Download from Amazon: White Christmas
>Download from Amazon: The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1994)
Movie Presentation (1:54) | Presented by OpenlineBlog.com + Hulu
Six-year old Susan Walker has doubts about childhood's most enduring miracle...Santa Claus. Then Susan meets Kriss Kringle, a department store Santa who believes he's the genuine deal.
Note: Limited-time feature - This post and film will expire on December 31st
>Buy DVD from Amazon: Miracle on 34th Street (Special Edition)
U.S. Senate Passes Health Reform Bill, But Could Abortion Be the Dealbreaker and Ground Zero of the Health Reform Debate?
President Barack Obama got his wish for the U.S. Senate to pass health reform by Christmas, an arbitrary deadline for political purpose. However, the next phase is where the House and Senate versions collide and since they are very different, there's much that can change or kill the bill.
One issue in particular, taxpayer funding of abortion, could be the dealbreaker and become the "ground zero" of the health reform debate.
Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois, has its own experience with the abortion debate being connected with so many other issues (zoning, constitutional rights, police, law, open meetings, public opinion, media coverage).
For those not familiar with what happened in Aurora in 2007, view the "Ground Zero Aurora" video:
Special thanks to Universal Music and U2
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Spending Addicts on Aurora City Council Go Wild | Party Girl Stephanie Kifowit, Nickel-n-Dimer Leroy Keith Among Taxpayer Exploiters in $383m Budget
The spending addicts on the Aurora City Council voted 10-2 to spend $383 million in 2010, even though the city will only receive an estimated $336 million in revenue (and that's assuming the revenue estimates don't decline further).
Alderman Bob O'Connor, who has been Chairman of the City's Wild Spending Finance Committee as it has plunged the city into deficits and spends even more than Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner's administration proposed, said the 2010 budget his committee passed forward is "lean" and "good" and "balanced" and "responsible."
>Finance Committee and City Council Math:
$383 million spending - $336 million revenue
= balanced budget
>Normal and Taxpayer Math:
$383 million spending - $336 million revenue
= $47 million problem
The city's self-stated $19 million deficit is based upon a combination factors of including carryover balances from various funds, including about $5 million being transferred from capital funds from sales taxes to general operating funds. It also assumes various labor union concessions and reductions in contributions to employee and retiree health insurance.
$2.9 million of the $19 million deficit will be made up from general reductions in operating line-items.
Alderman Rick Lawrence, who has been warning since 2005 these days of economic hardship would be coming, with or without the poor economy, says the city budget is still "bloated" for many reasons, including due to still-large city workforce, pension and other obligations. He cautioned ahead for 2011 and said the problem could get worse before it can get better.
"The reason we have bad economic times is not because of private sector misconduct only," Lawrence said, according to the Daily Herald. "It's because the governments and the state and the municipalities and the federal government spend too much money. They suck the money out of the economy."
Mayor Weisner said the process of spending reductions has been mentally and emotionally "arduous" and "we have to measure very carefully, very judiciously what we can cut in terms of dollars, what we can cut in terms of people and still be able to provide critical services to our community."
Weisner agreed with Lawrence that more difficult times are ahead and vowed to do more to reduce the city council's spending, according to the Daily Herald.
However, Lawrence who voted no on the budget because it doesn't go far enough, gave credit to Weisner for taking some steps toward addressing the fiscal situation, including furloughs and an attempt to shut down the ward slush funds that have allowed certain city council members to go wild with spending.
One of the worst offenders has turned out to be Alderman Stephanie Kifowit, who has been in nonstop campaign mode and on a wild spending spree at taxpayer expense to attend parties and banquets, promoting herself and her political ambitions under the guise of benefiting her ward.
At the same time Kifowit has been racing from one party to another over the past year with her taxpayer-funded admission tickets, she delayed spending over $746,000 on neighborhood infrastructure already allocated to her ward at the same time she says her ward is desperately in need of funds. Apparently, she's too busy being the party girl instead of the 3rd Ward Alderman and saving the funds for use next year when she has to run for an election again.
Meanwhile, 9th Ward Alderman Leroy Keith, the lab tech who hates libraries and has been known to waste ward slush funds on parties himself, exploits taxpayers in yet another way.
Keith has evolved into a "nickel-n-dimer" to bleed taxpayers from their funds. From charging taxpayers for his high-speed internet usage at home to charging travel expenses of mileage of over 13 miles every time he attends a city meeting (in addition to being paid for $75 for each meeting he attends on top of his salary), he's making sure to extract every penny from taxpayers he can.
During a recent finance committee discussion about Aurora's Library of the Future, it was revealed Keith has not even read various critical parts of the budget for years, even though he is on the finance committee and is paid to attend special finance committee meetings on the budget.
We urge Leroy Keith to stay home from now on, save costs to taxpayers and instead use the phone line he also charges taxpayers for. Ring, ring...Ka-ching!
With all of this, 7th Ward Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns expressed strong concern some things of priority weren't being funded properly, including various programs for youth. Hart-Burns voted against both the budget and the ward slush fund proposal.
Aurora Extends Smoking Ban to Entire Police HQ Campus and Soon to Rest of City Properties; Should City Smokers Pay More for Health Insurance?
Recently, our good friend and local political rockstar President Barack Obama was the surprise guest and chief party crasher at OpenlineBlog.com's 2009 Holiday Party, presented by Google, at the soon-to-be-opened new $120 million Aurora Police Headquarters.
However, the big surprise was when President Obama thought it was like the good ol'days of being an Illinois politician where he once could light up a cigarette, not just in the building, but anywhere outside, including within his Presidential limo.
Not anymore. On Tuesday, the Aurora City Council made it official to ban smoking and tobacco products, inside, outside and anywhere on city property, including within a personal vehicle.
In addition to the 24 acre police campus on Indian Trail, the smoke-free ban will also soon be applied to ALL city properties, including fire departments, city buildings and city hall.
Does this include city golf courses and city parks? Technically, yes.
In the meantime, city officials are talking about the cost of health insurance and even with Obama's health reform, the fact is smokers cost more than non-smokers, but the cost of health insurance is the same for both for city employees who smoke or don't smoke.
Should city employee smokers be charged more for health insurance?
Should President Barack Obama and any smoker pay more for health insurance with the proposed health insurance reform?
Should smokers be ineligible for health insurance provided by the government, including Medicaid and Medicare?
What can you expect at Billy Goat Tavern?
Aurora City Council approved a $1.25 million package for a developer planning a "restaurant row" project along New York Street in downtown that includes a proposed Billy Goat Tavern.
The developer says the total cost of the project is $3.9 million for three restaurants.
Billy Goat Tavern is expected to open in March 2010.
Note: Aurora City Council also voted on Tuesday to give Ballydoyle on New York Street $40,000 for exterior assistance for a new deck for their restaurant/pub.
Fleecing of America | Pay-to-Play, Bribery and the Chicago Way Alive and Well in Health Reform; Is Pat Quinn Ready to Sink Illinois Further Into Debt?
As certain states receive special treatment (aka "bribes") for votes on health reform, what about Illinois?
Nebraska says NO to the corruption of health reform?
Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Roland Burris apparently couldn't swing any deals for Illinois, so will temp Gov. Pat Quinn look the other way and sink Illinois further into debt to pay for the massive increase in Medicaid costs?
Nebraska says NO to the corruption of health reform?
Entertainment superstar Michael Jackson, who's death shocked the world in June at the age of 50, had been part of multiple investigations by the FBI, including extortion threats and child molestation allegations (he was acquitted of any charges).
The FBI has released selected copies of the files.
Jackson had been preparing for a final concert series called "This Is It."
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Fleecing of Illinois | Quinn Gives $24 Million Gift to United Parcel Service (UPS) at Taxpayer Expense Despite State's Fiscal Crisis
The $58 Billion company, United Parcel Service (UPS), is getting a taxpayer-funded $24 million gift from the State of Illinois to "modernize" a couple distribution facilities.
Would jobs really have been diverted elsewhere? Should a company with billions in profit and revenue be able to pay for their modernization?
Monday, December 21, 2009
Chicago Way, Backroom Deals, What's the Rush to Pass Health Reform By Christmas When It Won't Be Effective Until 2014?
Has President Barack Obama's political agenda of passing health reform got in the way of making sure it's done right?
From adding millions to Medicaid to the long-term care "ponzi scheme" to bribes and the Chicago Way at taxpayer expense to swing votes to dumping 400 page amendments in the middle of the night, what is truly the best way to reform health insurance and provide healthcare for Americans?
What happened to President Obama's promise to make sure the full negotiations and details of these big issues are open and transparent for everyone to see and understand?
What is the rush to pass the bill by Christmas when it won't be fully effective until 2014?
Should Congress put the bill on hold until January and come back to deal with it carefully to come up with a bill that is both understood and works well?
Or is it more important to score a political victory with politics as usual?
Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo speaks before Sunday's Bears-Ravens game and will have more to say at the end of the season, but read between the lines and the end of the Lovie Smith era is coming soon.
The Bears lost 31-7 to Baltimore on Sunday to drop to 5-9 on the season. 3 more interceptions for QB Jay Cutler. Six turnovers.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
We are frequently asked "what has gone wrong with Stephanie Kifowit?" who is Aurora's 3rd Ward Alderman and we have no answer, but we do recognize she has veered off-track to the point where she is no longer competent for taxpayers in her ward.
According to several viewers, Kifowit has made some bizarre statements recently at city meetings.
Despite spending thousands and thousands of your taxdollars to push density reduction for years in her east side ward that is full of overcrowding problems, Kifowit now says that we must do everything to keep residents and even increase them in a school district (East Aurora 131) that cannot handle any more students.
Why would she flip-flop on density reduction?
Because there is a 2010 census coming up and it will help generate dollars for every "head."
She even says we must help owners in foreclosure because we can't lose them as residents. Kifowit wants even MORE residents to move into her ward despite the overcrowding problems that already exist.
So, forget the overcrowding, the pressure on the school district, city services and the poor quality of life for the residents of the 3rd Ward.
The census is coming and that's the priority over quality of life and education of our youth.
And all that effort and taxpayer expense for density reduction? Forget about it.
Kifowit, who is constantly campaigning and seeking political office after coming in a distant last place in a failed attempt to run for mayor, might want to take a break from political fantasyland and flip-flops.
Instead, she might want to figure out where her priorities are when it comes to the best interests of the taxpayers of the 3rd Ward.
Note: In early 2011, there will be an election and opportunity to change 7 Aurora City Council seats, including Ward 3
Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner greets the public at the recent
"open house" for the new 200,000 square foot $120 million
Aurora Police Headquarters, expected to open in January 2010
(click image to enlarge)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Rachel Currie of Naperville was allegedly threatened by an off-duty 41 year old Chicago police officer near the Planned Parenthood facility in Aurora on Wednesday.
The man, who has not been identified by either Aurora or Chicago police, came to the facility with a 31 year old female.
When he was approached by Currie, one of the sidewalk counselors who offers suggested alternatives to abortion, he allegedly displayed a gun and then proceeded into the Planned Parenthood facility.
Aurora police say they found a gun inside the man's vehicle, but he claims he only displayed his badge to her, which he also had.
However, there's no explanation as to why he would be flashing a Chicago police badge in Aurora when he's off-duty.
Eric Schiedler of the Pro-Life Action League says while sidewalk counselors have felt threatened before, this is the first time anyone has used a gun.
Planned Parenthood says the incident happened outside of their property, but they will cooperate with Aurora police.
Criminal charges may be pursued against the off-duty police officer and it remains to be seen if any other disciplinary action will be taken by Chicago police as well.
Note: Video and photo courtesy of Daily Herald
Prosecutors gone wild or reasonable sacrifice of civil liberties for potential safety? You decide...
Daily Herald reports:
Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Christine Downs said her top (legislative) priority (for 2010) is seeing that civil orders of protection have the same ability as criminal orders of protection to confiscate guns from individuals who have such an order served on them. Down said she's also hoping for a law change that allows a reasonable use of force to obtain blood, DNA or urine from a person implicated or suspected of crime.
Since civil statutes differ from criminal statutes and orders of protection are often obtained based upon a one-sided view of a story, is it fair to confiscate a gun from someone simply because they own one?
Is there such a thing as "reasonable" use of force? What does that mean? Waterboarding? Physical violence? Even if you are simply "implicated" or "suspected" of a crime?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Imagine the Possibilities | Aurora City Council Unanimously Approves Site for Library of the Future, Center for Knowledge and Urban Transformation
If all goes according to intent, years from now, Tuesday, December 15, 2009 will go down in Aurora's history as an official leap forward to dramatically changing its future.
Aurora City Council voted unanimously to support the library board's site acquisition of the former Beacon-News property at RiverBe & Benton in downtown Aurora, which is part of the successful River Street Plaza mixed-use development. The Beacon-News property will be demolished to make room for a clean slate for new ideas.
Technically, the city council simply approved a transfer of funds the library has been saving to another account to purchase the property. Practically, they have unlocked the future and opened the possibilities to not only create an innovative, state-of-the-art, 21st century library that will do far more than hold books, but they have allowed the opportunity for Aurora to become a center of knowledge and spark an urban transformation.
Just replacing the current 104 year old existing central library is not the task ahead. Instead, now that the library knows the home of its future location, the challenge is to come up with a multi-purpose, dynamic, fluid and information power center networked with the world that will go far beyond bookshelves of the past.
"Imagine the possibilities" says Eva Luckingbill, the library director.
Aurora's library should not be simply new or better than Naperville, Elgin or Schaumburg. It can and should be at the level of the most progressive cities in the world.
Developer Joseph Vantreese, who sold the site to the library at considerable discount, says the vision for this library of the future is to "create a crown jewel" for the people of Aurora that could become the city's top attraction and spark an urban transformation with growing a knowledge base of people and ideas.
What are the features, uses, innovations and possibilities you want to see in Aurora's Library of the Future?
A strange thing has been happening on the way to the 2010 budget for the City of Aurora.
Of the estimated $382 million budget, most of the Aurora City Council is focused on one small part that amounts to about 1.5% of the budget...the ward slush funds.
Leaving aside the rest of the 98.5% of the budget, the proposal initiated by Alderman Rick Lawrence and submitted by Mayor Tom Weisner for 2010 was intended to dramatically slash the ward slush funds and instead direct most of the $5.8 million toward road projects.
Lawrence suggested a limit of $20,000 per ward while Weisner's budget included a limit of $40,000 with a minimum of 50% going toward infrastructure projects.
But, spending addicts on the Aurora City Council, including but not limited to Alderman Stephanie Kifowit, Alderman Rick Mervine and Alderman Leroy Keith, want more of your money.
A proposal last week was to DOUBLE the ward funds to $80,000, but now they say they will push for $75,000 each with a minimum of 2/3rd or $50,000 going toward roads.
Why are these ward slush funds so important to the spending addicts? From parties to political self-promotion, the funds have become a checkbook to play with your money.
For example, constant campaigner Stephanie Kifowit has been using ward slush funds to fund her political aspirations, buying high-priced tickets to dinners to "donations" to various groups she wants political support from.
Even worse, Kifowit has been sitting on hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for her ward and instead of using them on infrastructure projects needed, she has been trying to stockpile the money to use instead preceding her next election. She wants to help her ward only when it's political convenient?
Many say the roads and infrastructure funds need to be removed from ALL control by unqualified city council members. Leroy Keith, who recently demonstrated he doesn't even read the budget in full despite being on the finance committee, should certainly not be making engineering decisions.
Lawrence and Weisner were correct to attempt to reduce the ward slush funds.
We say the ideal amount of ward slush funds is ZERO.
Note: Aurora City Council will consider and vote on the 2010 budget at its next city council meeting on December 22, 2009.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
President Barack Obama and the White House will choose Thomson Correctional Center in northwest Illinois, about 150 miles west of Chicago (and around 2 hours from Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois) for the new location for the Guantanamo, Cuba detainees.
View Larger Map
Monday, December 14, 2009
Video Courtesy OneMan
If it weren't bad enough Illinois became the ethical joke of the nation as Chicago's culture of corruption took the national stage this past year, the fiscal crisis your elected officials have created in Illinois keeps getting worse.
Now, the bond rating for Illinois has fallen to among the worst in the nation, which means significant cost increases and difficulty for borrowing more debt on top of the growing pile of fiscal problems.
In the video above, OneMan's perspective on just how far Illinois has veered off the financial track.
60 Minutes Interview with President Barack Obama
War, Afghanistan, Surge, Iraq, Troops, Pakistan
Jobs, Economy, Stimulus, TARP, Banks, Bonuses
Health Reform, Congress, Deficits, Gate Crashers
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Extended Interview on Afghanistan
Friday, December 11, 2009
Properties along West New York Street in downtown Aurora could
become part of a development which includes Billy Goat Tavern
The same developer pursuing the Elks Club condo development project in downtown Aurora has been acquiring various properties along West New York Street, west of Hollywood Casino, in the hope of creating a "restaurant row."
After the City of Aurora gave Downers Grove-based Irish bar Ballydoyle a couple million in incentives to come to downtown Aurora, the developer is hoping to get the City of Aurora to bet another $1.25 million on his efforts to bring Billy Goat Tavern to downtown Aurora as one of the three restaurants and a few upper-level residential units.
The funds, which would come from a TIF (Tax-Increment Financing), would be given over three years, with the majority of $700,000 front-ended in Year 1, $400,000 in Year 2 and $150,000 in Year 3, paid in full provided the restaurants stayed in business. Overall construction and renovation would cost another million, on top of land acquisition for a total project cost of $3.9 million, according to the developer.
Several variations of restaurants and bars have been made at the site, but developer is counting on a "synergy" effect with Ballydoyle across the street and hopes the combined efforts will make it a "destination."
Those previous attempts received thousands in TIF funds with varying results.
Can Chicago-based Billy Goat Tavern help West New York Street? The establishment has been well-known in the Chicago area for decades, but sources say will be leaving a couple existing locations, including Navy Pier.
From the success of River Street Plaza along with Waubonsee College's campus under construction to various mixed-use retail, restaurant, office and residential, a future state-of-the-art library combined with demolition of old structures such as the Beacon-News building and current police station, there is an emerging center of synergy along River Street.
Can West New York Street also succeed and help extend the synergy?
Corruption of Illinois, Slush Funds, Chicago Way, Politics-As-Usual, Contribution Limits | Interview with Former Asst U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tiger Woods is an exceptional golfer, but might also be one of the exceptions to the conventional rule of "there is no such thing as bad publicity."
Should corporate sponsors bail on Tiger Woods or is this just a temporary storm he will eventually survive?
Jamiee Grubbs speaks out on her relationship with Tiger Woods and the impact on his wife:
And, Tiger Woods and his lovely wife Elin on Saturday Night Live (SNL):
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Next time you hear the politicians in control of Illinois, be sure to ask yourself what role they have had in creating the worst state of fiscal irresponsibility in the nation, except for California's financial meltdown.
And, when you hear "at least we aren't like California" take a look outside your Illinois window at the weather and factor that, too.
From Chicago's King of Corruption, Mayor Richard M. Daley to Illinois political emperor Michael Madigan to the so-called temporary Governor Pat Quinn, everyone blames everyone else, but nobody takes any responsibility for the fiscal mess as the bond rating for Illinois crashes, making it more difficult and expensive to do anything.
You have the power to CHANGE Illinois coming in February 2010 by removing the politicians who play wild spending games with your money and instead making sure we have elected officials who protect taxpayers and the future of Illinois.
How low must Illinois go before we have had enough?
Jim Ryan, who's running for Governor spoke Sunday about Illinois government:
Meanwhile, State Senator Bill Brady has unveiled his first ad in the race for Governor:
28 year old Mark Vargas has stepped out of the race for the 14th Congressional District and will instead support Ethan Hastert for the Republican nomination.
Along with Hastert, State Senator Randy Hultgren and Geneva's Jeff Danklefsen are still candidates.
On the Democrat side, incumbent Bill Foster is being challenged by Aurora's Jim Pistorius.
The Kane County Board voted 12-11 to ban video gambling, joining other Northern Illinois counties, including DuPage, Cook, McHenry and Lake.
Video gambling is turning out to be a large bet Illinois temp Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders are losing.
Diana Martinez, the former director at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, is now directing marketing for Second City just in time for widespread attention and coverage for their 50th anniversary.
Paramount Theater's interim director is Dick Hawks.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Aurora Considers Smoke-Free Ban at Aurora Police Headquarters Complex, Including Outdoors...What About All Government Facilities?
On Tuesday, the City of Aurora's Government Operations Committee will consider an ordinance change targeted for the new soon-to-be open Aurora Police Headquarters extending the smoke-free restrictions to include all tobacco-related products anywhere on the 25 acre campus, including outdoors and parking deck.
Illinois law currently prohibits smoking indoors and restricts it from within 15 feet of the building entrance, but Aurora's proposal would include everywhere inside or outside the buildings to the boundaries of the campus.
Do you support this type of restriction?
And, if so, should this same restriction be applied equally across ALL city government facilities, including City Hall, fire stations, library and departments such as water, streets and city's central garage?
What about all other public facilities? County, park districts, schools, state and federal?
Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti says a multi-jurisdictional drug investigation may have resulted in the "largest single seizure of cannabis the Kane County State's Attorney's Office has ever been involved with."
Chicago Tribune reports six individuals were arrested last month for their role in trafficking of marijuana to the Chicago area.
Over 2,300 pounds were seized at an undisclosed location (not in Kane County). Those arrested include William Santana, 41 from Elgin; Edwardo Alanis-Garcia, 43 of Melrose Park; Joseph Lichay, 48 of Huntley; and Fabricio Mendiola, 26, Santos Nunez, 48 and Jose Arriga, 36 all of Chicago.
Monday, December 07, 2009
The new Aurora Police Headquarters at 1200 E. Indian Trail was open to the public for self-guided tours this weekend after the City of Aurora held a "VIP and Media" event on Friday.
As expected, the massive $120 million complex will house over 300 officers and 92 support staff, 911 center, branch court, training facility and parking deck, but perhaps the most significant news development has nothing to do with the building itself.
Chief of Police Greg Thomas and Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner announced the facility will include an automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) 4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence and rank-n-file police officers have been seeking to dramatically reduce the turnaround time for criminal investigations.
Currently, fingerprints are sent to the state's crime lab in Joliet and can take anywhere from a few months to a couple years for processing, depending on the type of case.
We strongly commend Alderman Lawrence for pursuing this critical crime-fighting tool to be included in the new police headquarters and for Chief Thomas and Mayor Weisner for implementing this tool that costs a relatively small amount, but may have significant impact on investigating and reducing crime.
As for the massive facility, it's clear the existing police station built in 1966 is dysfunctional and needed to be replaced with a modern facility that reflected Aurora's police department of today.
For those of you who toured the new Aurora Police Headquarters this past weekend, what was your opinion? What features will best serve the public and reduce crime? What would you have improved?
***UPDATE: On Tuesday, the Government Operations Committee will consider an ordinance to ban smoking and all tobacco-related products at the entire Aurora Police Headquarters campus, including outdoors.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Meet the Press and Face the Nation on the Afghanistan Troop Surge
Meet the Press + Face the Nation
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Friday, December 04, 2009
City of Aurora Agrees to Retroactive Raises and Guarantees of No Layoffs in Exchange for 2 Weeks of Furloughs for AFSCME Local 3298
AFSCME Local 3298 and the City of Aurora have agreed to a new contract, which includes raises and guarantees of no layoffs through the end of 2010 in exchange for two weeks (or 80 hours) of furloughs.
Raises will be retroactive to October 1, 2008 with a 3% increase, a salary freeze for one year and then a 2% increase on October 1, 2010.
The city says it will guarantee no layoffs in 2010 with the agreement of furlough days.
According to the Daily Herald, "in lieu of taking unpaid days off (furlough days), an employee may also choose to have the accumulated monetary value of the furlough days prorated on an annual basis, and then deducted in equal amounts over the 26 pay checks they receive during the year."
Local 3298 includes 210 full-time and part-time support staff, including clerical, inspectors, maintenance and customer service.
City of Aurora officials project a $19 million deficit for 2010.
Election 2010 | While Alexi Giannoulias Ducks Debates, David Hoffman Launches Television Commercials in U.S. Senate Race for Obama's Former Seat
David Hoffman, the former U.S. Attorney and Chicago Inspector General, has launched the first of his television commercials for his campaign for the Democrat's nomination for the U.S. Senate seat, formerly held by President Barack Obama.
Some say Hoffman may be the right person at the right time as Illinois and Chicago's Culture of Corruption have reached epidemic problems, which may explain why opponent Alexi Giannoulias has been ducking opportunities for debate.
Mark Kirk is likely to be the Republican nominee. With various issues surrounding Giannoulias involving his family's bank, Hoffman may be the strongest opponent for Kirk.
Who do you think will end up in the general election?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Are Urban Area Township Government Units Clout Farms and Taxpayer Waste? Time to Say Goodbye to Township Government?
ABC7's I-Team and the Better Government Association (BGA) took a close look at the role and waste of township government units in Cook County as clout farms.
While suburban townships such as Aurora, Naperville and Wheatland have a more relevant role for the township assessor, is it in the taxpayer's best interest to have township government in urban areas?
Should the assessor's role and road responsibilities be shifted to counties and cities with township government eliminated?
The Aurora Election Commission is asking for a budget increase from $455,415 in 2009 to $484,291 in 2010.
Kane County currently reimburses a portion of the expenses for the election commission, which serves the Aurora residents of Kane, Kendall and Will Counties. DuPage County residents of Aurora are served by the DuPage County Election Commission.
With a move from their current facility in downtown Aurora expected due to the city giving away the Elks Club property to a developer, the question has surfaced again as to why have the Aurora Election Commission.
Kane County has said they would be willing to set-up a branch office in Aurora so the people of Aurora would still maintain the same convenience.
With technology becoming an increasing cost of elections, it seems to be more efficient for the various counties to handle the election process.
Over 300 people from state, federal and international authorities are involved in an operation to kill over 200,000 pounds of fish with a toxic chemical into a 6 mile stretch of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, as part of an effort to prevent the invasion of Asian Carp entering Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes.