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Council approves ‘hood riders’ amendment, open container law
Posted By Staff On May 12, 2010 @ 6:00 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
By Stuart R. Wahlin
Responding to the increasing frequency of huge numbers of scofflaws taking over city streets in the wee hours of the morning in recent years, members of the Rockford City Council unanimously passed an amended ordinance May 10 that will give the joy riders something to worry about the next time they consider taking part in “hood rider” activities—having their vehicles impounded.
A May 4 special meeting of the council’s Codes and Regulations Committee focused on the new ordinance, which aims to combat the craze among some car enthusiasts that often involves groups of as many as 200 marauding cars causing noise and property damage, and bringing traffic to a halt in the hours between midnight and 3 a.m., according to Douglas Pann, a Rockford Police sergeant.
When law enforcement intervenes in the activity, participants often flee, but once license plate numbers are noted, the new law gives police the authority to levy fines and impound vehicles involved in such activities, similar to a nuisance noise ordinance the council adopted to impound vehicles whose drivers play their stereos too loudly.
Andrew Mineau, who drives a theme car often associated with the hood riders, or “The Movement,” expressed concern he and other law-abiding motorists may be unfairly targeted as a result of the ordinance.
“I feel like it’s being stereotypical of certain people,” Mineau said, alleging he’d been the subject of what he called “harassment” by police already. “I just feel like if we give…them too much power, then some officers do abuse the power.
“Sometimes I feel like my rights are being violated, ’cause a lot of these ordinances that are coming out are just reasons to pull people over and search their vehicle, which is completely wrong,” he added. “The vehicle I like to drive, that I put over five years of work into, shouldn’t be impounded or criticized or stereotyped because of the actions of other people in this city.”
Mineau argued the law unfairly focuses on one specific group of vehicle owners, noting, for instance, there are no ordinances aimed at large packs of motorcyclists traversing city streets.
Ald. Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7), however, clarified that the law specifically applies to the late-night, unlawful activities of the hood riders, not to all theme car enthusiasts.
“It’s not just one vehicle, and we’re not targeting individuals that have a car with a 7-Up, Coca-Cola [logo], or that type of thing,” she explained. “It is not to target anyone. It is not to stop individuals just to stop them, or search their cars, or treat ’em unfairly.”
Thompson-Kelly and Ald. Venita Hervey (D-5) urged anyone who feels the law is applied unjustly to contact their aldermen, or the chief of police.
“I know several young men who have the so-called character cars and theme cars,” Hervey acknowledged. “Those aren’t the people that we’re talking about. We need to be very clear that the individuals we are addressing, and the behavior that we are addressing, are people who believe that it is OK to totally ignore traffic laws, other individuals’ safety in our neighborhoods, people who believe that they can have moving street parties that keep individuals awake, that damage their property.”
Open container law approved for trial run
Aldermen approved a public area open-container ordinance that would apply to events at the City Market on Water Street, between Jefferson and State streets, and along the two-block portion of Main Street that was formerly a downtown pedestrian mall. The measure, which will allow pedestrians to enjoy alcoholic beverages within the outdoor confines of the two locations, has a Nov. 1 sunset clause attached to it as aldermen consider this summer and fall a trial period for the new law.
Funding source amended for River District Association allotment
Nearly a month after a $40,000 work plan and fee-for-service contract was first before council members for consideration, aldermen approved the River District Association’s (RDA) funding request.
The RDA is a 550-member nonprofit that focuses on marketing downtown businesses and housing.
The matter was first read in April 12, but a motion to suspend the rules for a vote that night failed. The following week, in the wake of budget deficits and numerous other groups seeking city funding, aldermen opted to reconsider the request at the committee level. Ultimately, committee members agreed to renew the $40,000 the council has provided for the RDA the past several years, but warned groups the city may not be so generous next year.
The following week, the report returned to the council floor for a procedural first reading and one-week layover. Because of an error, however, the matter was not placed on the May 3 agenda for a vote, resulting in a delay until the May 10 meeting.
For the last few years, the city has earmarked $20,000 from the East Side Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District and $20,000 from the West Side TIF District for the RDA, which is depending on the $40,000 in tax dollars for a substantial portion of its $155,000 budget for 2010.
Because the West Side TIF District is underperforming, however, aldermen approved an amendment that will instead provide $20,000 from recaptured loan funds of the state’s Community Services Block Grant program, pending approval from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). According to Human Services Director George Davis, the RDA’s economic development pursuits make such an allocation eligible for the dollars. Davis expects approval from the DCEO within two weeks, and the RDA is comfortable with the plan, officials say.
→ Awarding a $127,372-per-year bid to Konica-Minolta, of Rolling Meadows, for rental of copiers for a three-year period.
→ Awarding Fehr-Graham & Associates a $132,992.12 design and construction engineering contract for work related to water main improvements along West State Street.
→ Awarding SEC Group, Inc., of McHenry, $75,280 for additional construction engineering related to the Central Avenue bridge over Keith Creek, increasing SEC’s contract total to $213,153.76 for the project.
→ Awarding a $54,987 bid to Wright Automotive, of Hillsboro, for the purchase of three mini-vans by the Human Services Department.
→ Awarding a $231,156 design engineering and construction inspection agreement to Terry Guen Design Associates, of Chicago, for linear park design services in the West State Street corridor.
→ Approving $30,000 in funding for Miracle Mile Rockford, a business-marketing organization, from the Miracle Mile TIF District.
Department heads reappointed
Reid Montgomery was reappointed as director of the Community and Economic Development Department. Andres Sammul was reappointed as director of the Finance Department. Jessica Jones was reappointed as director of Human Resources. George Davis was reappointed as director of Human Services. Glenn Trommels was reappointed as director of Information Technology. Patrick Hayes was reappointed as director of the Legal Department. Tim Hanson was reappointed as director of the Public Works Department.
Bruce Roberts, a retired police officer and former Winnebago County Board member, encouraged city leaders to talk one-on-one with police officers to learn what resources they need to serve and protect the community.
May was proclaimed National Historic Preservation Month. The week of May 8 was proclaimed National Americorps Week. May 13 was proclaimed Keller Williams Realty Red Day. May 9-15 was proclaimed National Police Week.
Aldermen Doug Mark (R-3) and Linda McNeely (D-13) were absent.
From the May 12-18, 2010 issue
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