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CITY BEAT: EFFORT AGAIN UNDERWAY TO ELIMINATE A CITY’S PUBLIC NOTICES IN NEWSPAPERS

 

Paul Osborne
Editor/Publisher

   THERE IS another push by some Illinois lawmakers to eliminate a municipality’s public notices from being legally required to be published in the local newspaper.
      The Illinois Municipal League (IML) is advocating for municipalities to have the option to fulfill public notice mandates electronically.
     “People receive news and public information online or on their cell phones,” said IML President, Mayor Mark T. Kupsky, City of Fairview Heights. “LocalPublicNotices.org places public information right in the hands of our constituents and has the added benefit of increasing public awareness about important municipal issues.”
     I have a question: If people are receiving their news and public information online, then why is the IML sending a news release about it to a print newspaper? Can’t people read what they are doing on the IML website?

     My “Viewpoint” column on page 3 of today’s print and online editions deals with the latest move to remove municipalities’ public notices from newspaper publication in Illinois, exempting Chicago, of course, which is usually the case.

     DON Craven, president and CEO of the Illinois Press Association, states: “SB3620 imposes on municipal governments a requirement to post notices online – a function which they have failed to perform. Municipal governments are required to post meeting minutes and agendas online. According to the Citizens Advocacy Center, local governments fail miserably to meet those requirements.”

     • CARNEGIE LIBRARIES  –Tom Emery takes a look at our state’s Carnegie Libraries in this week’s “Scrapbook” feature on pages 4 and 5 of the print and online editions.
     As the article indicates “some 105 Carnegie public libraries were constructed in Illinois, trailing only Indiana and California. Decatur was among the recipients, as a Carnegie library was used by the city at the corner of Main and Eldorado from 1903-71.
     Our Carnegie Library was a treasure to me when I was a kid and, later, as a young adult.
When I was in junior high school I would ride my bike from my parents’ home on West Packard to the Carnegie Library and spend countless hours inside those hallowed walls devouring every bit of knowledge that I could digest in the time spent there.
There was just something special about walking up those steps and under the gigantic columns that stood so impressively at the front of the building.
     Fifteen years later, as the young editor of this newspaper I editorialized and fought hard against demolishing the structure after the library moved to the old Sears Roebuck building at the corner of William and Franklin.
     The unique structure had such possibilities, plus, what city leaders in their right minds demolish a Carnegie Library?
     It was only 69 years old when demolished in 1972 and I think that remains a huge mistake.
The 1970s and 1980s were tough decades for preservation in Decatur as several historic buildings, like the Carnegie Library, fell to the demolition crew’s wrecking ball.
     The 1990s weren’t much better as whole blocks of downtown buildings were destroyed.
Most of the sites then became parking lots.

     • PRIMARY CLOSE — There’s quite a few election notices, including specimen ballots for the March 19th General Primary Election, in this edition of the Trib.
     As fast as time flies these days, the election will be here before we know it.
     As I look over the Democrat and Republican specimen ballots on pages 12 and 13 of the print and online editions, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many uncontested races in a primary election.
     Not only that, a huge number of positions listed on the ballot have “No Candidate” in the space.
     From conversations I’ve had with many of our readers in recent months, there seems to be a huge disinterest in anything “political”.
     There is absolutely no desire on the part of many potential candidates in running for any office.
     As a local attorney told me a few weeks ago, “I’m not going to subject my family, or myself, to all of the negative, vicious feedback officeholders are getting today.”

     • CHOPPED UP! — Something else you will notice on the specimen ballots for the March 19th General Primary Election is how Macon County is chopped up through redistricting with a sizeable number of voters not even knowing who is representing them and what district covers their place of residence.
     Believe it or not, we have five State Representative Districts with pieces of Macon County — the 87th, 88th, 95th, 96th and 107th.
     Quick — if you live in Macon County do you know which district includes you, or do you know which state representive is in which district?
     You’d better double check before going to the polls or you may get a surprise when your ballot is handed to you.
     Rep. Sue Scherer of Decatur is the Democrat officeholder running for another term in the 96th District. I’ve known Sue for many years and she does a good job in her position.
The only other Democrat running in the five districts that have parts of Macon County is Kristen Chiaro in the 95th District.
     There are no Democrats running in the other 3 districts that represent parts Macon County.

     • REPUBLICANS — The Repub-licans have candidates in all five state representative districts.
     In three of the districts, the 87th (William E. Hauter), 95th (Mike Coffey) and 96th (Lisa Smith), the three Republicans, will move on past the primary and face races against the Democratic candidates, except in the 87th. In that district William E. Hauter doesn’t have an opponent in the primary or the general election.
     The only primary election in the state rep. races in Macon County that are contested in the March 19th election are in the 88th District and the 107th District.

     • THE 88TH DISTRICT primary election that is attracting the most attention, at least to this point, is between Regan Deering and Chuck Erickson.
     I’m not sure how hard Erickson is campaigning, because I haven’t heard much from him, but I do know that Deering is about everywhere meeting people in the district.
     The race is like a “north versus south” battle, with Erickson having strong ties in the northern part of the district and Deering in the southern part.
     The winner of the 88th District Republican Primary will not have an opponent in November’s General Election so the winner will actually win two races in one.
     Deering has received the endorsement of State Rep. Dan Caulkins who is retiring from office when his present term is up.
     Dan was a Decatur City Council-man during some of the years that I served as mayor.

     • THE OTHER contested Republican Primary race for state representative that covers part of Macon County is in the 107th District where incumbent Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville is being challenged by Marsha Webb of Macon.
     The winner of that race on March 19th basically will not be worrying about the General Election results in November because there is not an opponent from the opposition party.

     • RACE FOR CONGRESS — The Congressional races involving the two districts that include different parts of Macon County are the 15th District where Incumbent Republican Mary Miller of Oakland doesn’t have an opponent, and the 13th District where Democrat Incumbent Nikki Budzinski doesn’t have an opponent in the primary but will face either Thomas Clatterbuck or Joshua Lloyd, depending on which one wins in the Republican Primary Election.

     • ABOUT the only interesting race in Macon County is the coroner’s race which has three candidates (Michael Burkham, Jeffrey Kashefska and Whalen Vancil) battling it out in the Republican Primary to determine who will win and advance to face Democrat Tiffany Hall in the General Election in November.
     I can’ t remember a coroner’s race this high profile and, part of the reason may be the lack of contested races for other county offices, plus its been a couple of decades that retiring Coroner Mike day has held the office.
     Running unopposed in the county’s other major races are Diane Couri-Whithaus for State’s Attorney, Sherry A. Doty for Circuit Clerk and Cheryl Wise for Macon County Auditor.
On the Democrat side of the balloting, Mary A. (Tangney) Eaton is running for re-election as Macon County Recorder. Tiffany Hall, running for coroner, is the only other Democrat running for a major county office.

      REMEMBER when a woman first dared to run for public office in our area and it was major news?
     I do.
     I was a much younger editor when that started to change decades ago and now, every major Macon County office up for election except coroner — which has both men and a woman running — is going to be, or continue to be, held by a female officeholder.
     The way things are going these days, it may be news whenever a man wins election to some of these offices that, for most of the county’s history, were held by men.
     The times have changed — and women now have a strong presence in running for, and winning, major local, state and national offices.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00 to discuss what’s happening in our community, including elections.

 

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