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Out Here: Should Dixon change Title I, Chapter 5, Section 1-5-1?

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
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SVM News Editor David Giuliani

The Dixon City Council had an item of new business at its Feb. 18 meeting.

The issue? “Place on File – Ord. – Amending Code Title I, Chapter 5, Section 1-5-1.”

That was all the information given in the meeting agenda.

Of course, why would you need more?

Certainly you know what Title I covers? Who isn’t familiar with Chapter 5, let alone Section 1-5-1?

OK, I’m being sarcastic. Perhaps the city attorney and clerk are well-versed in the numbers, but probably no one else is.

Ideally, agendas are supposed to give residents – you know, the folks paying the bills – an idea about what business their representatives are considering. From this information, residents can decide whether they should attend.

In the pre-Crundwellian period (the time before the Rita Crundwell scandal became public), the city put items involving the city code on the agenda without referring to the subject matter. essentially keeping the public out of the loop.

In February 2012, I wrote out about this very subject – just 2 months before Crundwell was outed.

At the time, I asked City Clerk Kathe Swanson about an item on the Feb. 6, 2012, agenda that had no information about the proposed ordinance amendment being considered.

“The mayor explains what the items actually are at the meetings,” she replied.

I asked, “What if a resident uses the agenda to determine whether to attend meetings?”

Swanson said the people can go to the city website and link to the code and determine which one the council was considering amending.

As it happened, the ordinance section listed on the February 2012 agenda wasn’t on the Internet. The amendment under consideration was to give the police the power to seize and impound cars involved in certain crimes. The council approved it.

In the post-Crundwellian era, the city promised more openness with residents. That extended to agendas. As such, the city usually includes subject matter of ordinances proposed for amendment.

For some reason, the city failed to include the subject in the latest instance. Probably an oversight. But it’s worth pointing out that the agenda is for the public, not just the insiders.

By the way, the Feb. 18 item dealt with changing the hour of city meetings, moving them from 6:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The council will consider this at a subsequent meeting.

Humans rock

When calling a utility or some big company, do you get sick of dealing with automated systems? Sure you do.

Sometimes I can’t even find a phone number on a company’s website. Perhaps they make it difficult so fewer people will call.

Fortunately, I stumbled across gethuman.com. Just Google the company in question and “get human” and this site will provide you with numbers to press to get to an actual, living human being.

Just another way to cut down on needless stress.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley.com or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.

 

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