July 2 Rockford City Council briefs

Road work going out for bids

Following the successful override of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) veto of Senate Bill 1395 in the General Assembly, aldermen are wasting no time in getting to work on neighborhood road projects.

As of July 1, Rockford retailers began collecting sales tax at the rate of 8.25 percent—a 1 percentage point increase approved by voters in April. The referendum was not to take effect until Jan. 1, 2008, but the override of the governor’s veto now allows the increase to be collected six months early.

$3.45 million has been allocated for neighborhood streets throughout Rockford’s 14 wards in 2007.

Aldermen unanimously adopted a resolution to take bids for citywide resurfacing and reconstruction of streets and alleys, to be paid for by the General Fund and anticipated sales tax revenues. The six months’ worth of additional sales tax revenues in 2007 will bring in an estimated $8 million for the Capital Improvements Plan.

The resolution also serves to take bids for West State Street Corridor demolition, to be funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the State of Illinois.

Committee reports passed

Aldermen approved a committee report recommending the award of a $45,884 bid to Precision Drive of Freeport for motor re-winding.

The Council also approved a report recommending Municipal Design and Environmental Services, Inc., be awarded an engineering agreement for Elliot Golf Course Drainage. The design engineering cost is not to exceed $11,770.

Council considers a longer line of credit for Coronado

A report to amend the Coronado Theatre Management and Operations Agreement by extending an additional $250,000 in credit was passed. The original agreement, with a $350,000 line of credit, was approved June 5, 2006.

Ald. Victory Bell (D-5) said the $600,000 credit line is consistent with the 10-year plan set forth for the downtown jewel.

Ald. Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7) reported she’d not received the budget information she requested.

“I was hoping that it was forthcoming,” explained Thompson-Kelly, who cast a “no” vote. “Without that information, I cannot support this.”

Bell expressed regret Thompson-Kelly had unanswered questions, but asked fellow aldermen to support the move.

“We believe—and that was the committee’s position—that they have done an outstanding job,” Bell said, “that they are now in a position to even do a greater job, and they’re gonna continue to do great things in the City of Rockford.”

Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) concurred, stating: “They’ve done a very good job in their fiscal responsibility. They are certainly well on their way. Their 2007-2008 lineup of their programming looks to be fantastic.”

Thompson-Kelly defended her position before the vote was taken.

“I don’t think anyone is saying that the Coronado Theatre hasn’t done an exquisite job,” Thompson-Kelly acknowledged. “As anyone that comes before [the City Council] wanting a line of credit or dollars from this community, we do request certain information from them. Why is Coronado the exception to this rule?”

Although the report to amend the agreement was passed 12-1, Bell laid over a vote on the subsequent ordinance in hopes Thompson-Kelly will receive the information she requested before the matter is voted on. Bell had originally planned to ask for a rule suspension on the ordinance to approve the amendment that night. A vote is expected July 9.

MILL resolution still on hold

Ald. Lenny Jacobson (D-6) held out his resolution whereby the City Council would ask the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to reconsider its transfer of 22 residents from The MILL (Motivating Individuals for Learning and Living), thereby allowing the residential adolescent treatment center to re-open.

Jacobson indicated Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-67) and State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-34) were still in talks with DCFS in hopes of finding a way to keep the facility’s doors open.

The resolution acknowledges “a thorough and fair investigation into certain allegations” should still be conducted, but that The MILL provides an invaluable service to the community.

DCFS is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct between a staff member and a resident. All but maintenance and security personnel have been laid off from the facility.

Hero honored

Rockford Police Officer Jason J. DoBran was presented with the Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor at the July 2 City Council meeting. DoBran, along with Officer Oda Poole, selflessly entered a burning apartment to rescue residents from the flames. In May, Poole received the same commendation in Springfield.

Public participation:

Rockfor considers going greener

Robert Lindstrom spoke to the council about utilizing renewable energy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions locally. During his five years as energy grant manager for Rock Valley College, Lindstrom said he learned Illinois collectively spends roughly $30 billion annually for energy. Lindstrom urged aldermen to support the signing of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, arguing “greening” the community will have a positive impact on urban redevelopment.

“Rockford could be in an excellent position to benefit from an organized effort to help America reduce carbon emissions, if it is a player,” Lindstrom indicated. “Put simply, you have a choice: You can join the parade or watch it go by.”

Following suit, Burpee Museum President Lew Crampton spoke on behalf of the Green Communities Coalition and Cool Cities program. Crampton, who also served for seven years with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cited a number of reasons Rockford should be involved in such programs.

Crampton described Green Communities and Cool Cities as “mainstream,” noting about 400 cities—including Chicago—have already signed on. Saving money through lowered energy costs, improved quality of life, increased public health and positive image marketing were among the benefits Crampton listed. He added such projects also present excellent economic opportunities for local businesses. By taking the steps associated with making Rockford more environmentally friendly, Crampton said, the city can also turn surplus credits into cash in the exchange market.

Crampton asked that a committee be appointed to consider whether Rockford should participate. Frank Schier, along with Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl, were among the people Crampton suggested be on the committee. Schier is editor and publisher of The Rock River Times. The Vogls, the president and vice president of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association, are columnists for The Rock River Times. Schier also serves on the IREA board and has been editorially advocating renewables for Rockford since 2002. Crampton hopes the committee could have a recommendation by September.

“In today’s world, as we all know, a healthy economy and a clean environment go together,” Crampton concluded. “This program will mobilize folks in our community to think about ‘environment’ in a different way.”

Weaver namesnames, blasts departing alderman

Rockford resident John Weaver addressed city leaders regarding recent marches against street crime. Weaver indicated the number of participants in the June 26 march had doubled from the previous one in May. For information about future marches, call 1-815-968-2205.

Responding to being chastised for directing criticisms toward specific aldermen weeks prior, Weaver warned the council he’d be naming more names that night.

Coming as a pleasant surprise, Weaver chose to praise a number of officials, rather than critique them. Weaver thanked Police Chief Chet Epperson, Deputy Chief Michael Booker and Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) for marching.

Weeks after singling her out over comments she made about gambling in Rockford, Weaver gave special thanks to Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) for also attending the march.

Weaver thanked the “30 percent” of the council who att

ended the Neighborhood Network’s June 28 kickoff party, but added the group will require the council’s full support in the future.

Resisting the urge to mention Ald. Jeff Holt (D-11) by name, Weaver expressed disappointment after having read of Holt’s decision to move from Rockford. Weaver referenced quotes attributed to Holt in the local daily.

“Statements like, ‘I’m saddened about the amount of crime and blight that exists in this ward,’ and being undecided about whether to finish out a term as alderman shows all the people of your ward that they will not be receiving your full attention,” Weaver said. “If you plan to flee away when your new home is built, perhaps you should step down now and let someone else who can focus forward try to make the ward a better place for the ones you will be leaving behind.”

Holt was not present at the meeting.


Alice Howard, Joe Dailing and Raymond Matlock were re-appointed to three-year terms on the Fair Housing Board, expiring May 2010.

Howard is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Premier. Dailing is executive director for the Illinois Coalition for Equal Justice and director of the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic. Dailing also served as executive director of Prairie State Legal Services for more than 28 years. Matlock is the deputy in charge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Western Division.

Dock Ward, Fred Lierman and Cedonia Ahlstrand were re-appointed to five-year terms on the Traffic Commission. Their terms expire May 2012.

Ward is employed by Liebovich Bros. Lierman is employed by CDS and Associates law firm. Ahlstrand is a realtor for Ahlstrand & Associates.

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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