Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sales Tax Agreement Disclosure

Following are the comments Dr. Linz Brown made at the Sept 18th city council meeting regarding the agreement between the city and SIUC to donate $20 million to SIUC:

Public Comments

Dr. Linz Brown

September 18, 2007 Council Meeting

On Tuesday, August 21, 2007, The City Council passed a resolution to “authorize the Mayor to execute . . . an intergovernmental agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale that will commit the City of Carbondale to pay the University $1 million annually for twenty years . . . .”

One week later, August 28, 2007, I sent the following letter to the mayor:

Read Letter

To date, I have not had a response to this letter.

This disclosure issue raises the following five questions:

1. Why was the intergovernmental agreement not disclosed at the public hearing or at the Council meeting? As mentioned in my letter to the mayor, this would be consistent with previous practice of attaching contracts, intergovernmental agreements, and other documents to proposals and resolutions placed on agenda. (I reviewed several recent intergovernmental agreements in the City Clerk’s Office.)

2. Why is it that other villages and municipalities in Illinois disclose their intergovernmental agreements before a vote and Carbondale did not with the SIU agreement? See Exhibits 1 and 2.

3. Why did the mayor and other council members feel that the people of Carbondale did not need to see or should not see the proposed agreement?

4. Did the majority of councilpersons who voted for the tax increase package realize that they denied other Council members their rights and responsibilities? The single vote of four members of the Council on the sales tax increase proposal and two resolutions as a package had the effect of denying the other three members of the Council the right and opportunity to exercise their responsibility to review and act upon a final document because the resolution authorized the mayor to execute the agreement.

5. Why did four Council members negate their responsibilities to act in the best interests of the public on this unprecedented commitment by deferring to one person to execute the intergovernmental agreement without review or oversight by the total elected body.

Also, in reviewing the intergovernmental agreements file, why is the mayor authorized to execute an agreement in a few instances and the city manager in most others. Do we sometimes have a city manager type government and at other times a mayoral type government? Is “executing” an intergovernmental agreement a policy function or an administrative function?

In conclusion, I repeat the request mentioned in my letter, i.e. that the agreement be available for public review and comment and that it be returned to the full council before signing. To ignore full disclosure is not in the best interests of the Council or the public.

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Comments:
Linz, they only approved the financing. They didn't approve the agreement itself. Talks are happening with the SIU Foundation as I type this. You'll get the public details soon enough, just hold your hat for a minute.
 
Without ever seeing the agreement, the city council has already authorized the mayor to sign it. The mayor is under NO obligation to show it to anyone before he signs it. How smart is it for the council to authorize the signing of an agreement without knowing what protections are in it for the City? If the City's east side retail businesses are wiped out in an earthquake or tornado, will the City still have to fork over the $1 million each year to the university - even if the City can't pay it's own expenses? Unless the agreement is released as part of a SIU board of trustees meeting, the details of the agreement will probably only be known AFTER it has been signed. Too late for public input. Shame on you, city council.
 
No matter what the real issues, Lenz Brown is becoming the new David Christenson of Carbondale. He seems to be able to churn through any amount of data and still come up with the wrong conclusions in the end.

Between his sky is falling city tax analysis, the ditch in front of his house or this issue, he seems to be able to generate a good eye roll on every front.

I get a kick our of anonymousness's complaints about the city council rolling over on this deal. There will be lots of lawyers and BS, then in the end, the city council members will get a copy and do a behind the scenes once over. This is how things really get done, by delegating the responsibility to the right person.

Nice work on the blog, just a little analysis and you will be world class. ;)
 
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