Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Actions speak louder than words...

Make no mistake. We should not support any mayoral candidate who does not act NOW, BEFORE the election, to repeal the Master Sanitary Sewer Program with regard to requiring individual residents to bear the financial burden for improving the infrastructure of the City of Highland Park. We should not support any mayoral candidate does not act NOW, BEFORE the election, to reimburse the residents who were coerced by the City into paying thousands of dollars for this ill conceived and inequitable City program. Withhold your support until you see real concrete action.

I have had the opportunity to discuss this stance with candidates Terri Olian and Nancy Rodkin Rotering. While Highland Park is lucky to have two such fine, dedicated and competent mayoral candidates, it appears that neither of them will take the requisite action to squarely place this issue on the agenda for a City Council meeting before the election, and to fight to protect individual HP residents from the risk of receiving the City letter requiring them to pay $5,000-20,000 within weeks thereafter. This makes it highly doubtful that either will do anything about it afterward. So, perhaps we need another candidate to step in

However, as the greatest journey begins with a single step, we should take note that candidate Terri Olian did step up recently at a budget committee meeting and publicly raised the significance of the issue for discussion, suggesting that the budget should include reimbursement of payments to the residents who have already thousands of dollars for repairs to their lateral sanitary lines as required by Sanitary Sewer Program. Terri was formerly in favor of the Sanitary Sewer Plan yet, I believe, she now sees that it had a negative effect on many individual residents - that it is inequitable and the program is unsupportable. It takes a big person to change one’s stance and she showed real leadership to bring up the issue. Thank you, very much, Terri! It was a fine first step and truly much appreciated. Yet, the issue really needs to get on the City Council agenda and you need to fight it there. You should find a lot of people who will support you in that endeavor.

I was not at the budget meeting. Yet, I’ve been told that after Terri proposed the residents be repaid all the other Councilmen were either opposed to reimbursement or remained silent. It was reported that Steve Mandel was vocal in his opposition and that came as no surprise. With no positive support from any other Councilman, Terri is unlikely to fight alone. Yet, if the residents make it clear that this issue is important to them, Terri will listen and act.

I asked Nancy Rotering why she was silent at this meeting. She replied that the budget meeting was the wrong place to bring up issue and, especially, because Terri raised the issue late in the day after hours of work. I understand tired and also that there is a right time and place for all important ideas. But frankly, I don’t think it takes much effort to say, “I agree with you, Terri, and think that reimbursing the residents for the Sanitary Sewer Program should be placed on the City Council agenda, where it belongs, as soon as possible.” I just don’t understand your silence, Nancy, on this important issue.

Silence from all, except for Steve Mandel who is clearly opposed to reimbursing any resident who was forced to pay for this inequitable program. Silence from very same City Councilmen who in the last election assured Ravinia neighbors that they were opposed to the Sanitary Sewer Program. Shocking, unacceptable, and I sincerely hope they will be held accountable and definitely when their terms are up and they look for votes the next time. (Interestingly, Steve Mandel endorses Nancy Rotering for Mayor.)

We should note that Nancy voted against the 2011 HP Budget. In News from Nancy, Nancy articulates the reasons why she voted against the budget, using reserves and increasing taxes. It’s actually a useful report of her analysis of the major budgeting issues and her commitment to fiscal responsibility. However, nowhere in her report does she address the need to ensure that no resident is ever again coerced into paying thousands of dollars for City infrastructure repairs and that those who have been targeted should be reimbursed. Instead, she expresses her concerns about raising taxes by 2.5%. Some residents in Sunset Park and the Highlands paid thousands of dollars for infrastructure repairs. Wouldn’t most of us be happy to pay another $100 in taxes (far, far, far more than a 2.5% increase) to ensure that the City fixes flooding problems without ever showing up at our door and demanding $5,000-20,000 from any of us? A small price to pay...

We need a mayoral candidate that gets the big picture. Wouldn’t it be great if both of our candidates would do the right thing now?

Mayoral candidates, Councilmen, and residents are welcome to provide their positions on these issues and comment on the blog.

1 comment:

dan said...

Couple questions: 1) what's the best way to express our concerns to the candidates; and 2) I don't know Steve Mandel so why is it not surprising he wouldn't want to reimburse those who have already paid in?