Aldermen to consider limiting public speakers, city joins task force
By Stuart R. Wahlin
Ald. Nancy Johnson (D-8) introduced a resolution June 21 that would limit the number of times an individual may address the Rockford City Council to five times per year. The measure was referred to the Codes and Regulations Committee for deliberation.
Presently, there is no limit on the number of times a person may speak during public comments throughout any given year, but speakers are asked to keep their comments to 3 minutes or less.
Meantime, however, there is no proposal to limit the prattle of council members during the segment of meetings referred to as “Officers’ Reports,” during which comments by aldermen often have little, if anything, to do with the business of the city.
In other news, aldermen approved a resolution in a 12-2 vote to enter into an intergovernmental agreement to participate in the Winnebago County Integrity Task Force, which will be available to county municipalities for investigations regarding officer-involved shootings, or deaths of individuals while in custody.
The task force was first explored after the shooting death of 23-year-old Mark Anthony Barmore, an unarmed African-American, by Rockford police officers. Minority groups called for an outside investigation of the shooting, rather than having the two white police officers investigated by their peers.
The new task force will be made up of law enforcement agents from throughout the county, which is not likely to satisfy those with the mindset that police officers tend to protect their own, however.
Aldermen Ann Thompson-Kelly (D-7) and Linda McNeely (D-13) voted “no.”
→ Giving final approval to a funding request by the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC). The $100,000 in funding will come from Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funds made possible through the federal stimulus program to address poverty. Aldermen Venita Hervey (D-5), Lenny Jacobson (D-6) and Linda McNeely (D-13) voted “no.” McNeely explained: “It is unfortunate that we’re looking at spending $100,000 to an agency, when I know that within my ward, very recently, I have talked with minority businesses that need assistance. …I don’t recall any of them saying that they had heard from, or even that they’re aware of, RAEDC.”
→ Awarding a $487,005.28 bid to William Charles Electric, of Loves Park, for the relighting of the Concourse Parking Deck downtown. The cost will largely be paid through a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy, but the city will also put forth $50,000 for the project.
→ Approving the $15,616 purchase of four utility trailers from V&T Trailer Sales.
→ Awarding the sale of properties at 416 and 420 N. Avon St. to Mt. Zion Baptist Church for a bid of $7,800.
Jim Buckingham argued the city needs to do a better job protecting its citizens, namely by increasing, not decreasing, resources for fire and police personnel.
Ted Ross focused on the city’s mounting pension obligations, suggesting that aldermen revisit the issue of adjusting minimum manning on fire trucks from four to three.
Bruce Roberts urged aldermen to strongly consider supporting a proposed county-wide integrity taskforce to examine police shootings and prisoner deaths. Roberts also denounced the Rockford Register Star’s decision to print on its front page an article about a disability filing by an officer involved in the shooting death of Mark Anthony Barmore last year.
In what has become a recurring theme during his comments, Prophet Yusef again stressed that anyone can learn, and that those coming from backgrounds of poverty are capable of great things.
Dyanna Chandler applauded the city for taking ownership of the controversial officer-involved shooting death of Mark Anthony Barmore by commissioning an independent review. She urged city leaders to strive to embrace the recommendations for improvements contained in the report that was released to the public June 15.
From the June 23-29, 2010 issue
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