Politics, Poison and Posturing
Cat fight at City Hall
Welcome to DeKalb, Mark Biernacki! You might be wondering if that's true, given the front page headline and lead in paragraph in the Daily Chronicle announcing your hiring as City Manager. Or after reading some of the letters to the editor and call ins to their Ear to Ear column.
DeKalb really is a friendly city. And there are many people who think you'll do a great job.
Biernacki is not the source for the cat fight at 200 South Fourth Street in DeKalb. The issue is between aldermen Pat Conboy, Kris Povlsen, Steve Kapitan, who all either directly or indirectly supported former mayor Bessie Chronopolous in the past election, and current mayor Greg Sparrow.
The Sparrow Opposition Party is receiving expert cheerleading services from Herb Rubin, professor emeritus at NIU, and former member of the DeKalb Plan Commission. Sparrow chose not to reappoint Rubin to the plan commission last July.
Dr. Rubin has earned a Ph.D. in political science and a Master of Science degree in mathematics. He put his education to use in writing a letter to the editor (complete with graphics) with the posit that since numbers he tabulated "prove" that the three aldermen named above actually represent the majority of the citizens of DeKalb, their voting block should determine all city council decisions, despite how the mayor and four other aldermen vote.
In a call in to the Ear to Ear column, Dr. Rubin has announced he is writing a follow up letter to further drive his new mathematics home. He also questions Mark Biernacki's motivation for accepting the position of city manager. He and other callers and writers (and Chris Rickert of the Daily Chronicle, read first paragraph linked to above) have more or less accused aldermen Dave Baker, James Barr, Kariega Harris and Mike Knowlton of not having a mind of their own.
No wonder its so difficult to get good people to run for elected positions.
Aldermen Baker, Barr, Harris and Knowlton should respond to the personal attacks on their integrity with their own letters to the editor. I would, anyway. And the Sparrow Opposition Party should be embarrassed for using or tolerating such a childish strategy.
Mayor Sparrow has some responsibility in this silliness at city hall. Comments, not usually aired so quickly after closed executive session to discuss personnel matters related to the hiring of Mark Biernacki, were turned into vicious personal attacks. The mayor should order the public release of the recording of the closed sessions in their entirety. I bet it would reveal that Conboy, Povlsen and Kapitan did not so much oppose the contract structure offered to Biernacki as they did the fact that Sparrow recommended him.
At least until they decided that the contract structure could be a tool to use in their fight with Sparrow.
I believe Mayor Sparrow, and aldermen Baker, Barr, Harris and Knowlton made the correct choice, from the field of three finalists, when they voted to hire Mark Biernacki. My opinion is formed from my experience of him during his previous employment with the City of DeKalb. We worked together on the DeKalb Park District comprehensive plan. He basically served as the liasion/moderator between the park district's executive director and staff and volunteer citizens who served on the committee. His level of excellence in fulfilling his duties and his abilities to facilitate the strong, diversified opinions of the group earned a lot of respect from me.
I suspect that the mayor and four aldermen expect Mark Biernacki to serve city residents by eliminating waste, increasing efficiency and boosting morale to provide good government. As I have gratitude for the efforts of all public servants, including elected officials, I believe they also felt that Biernacki was the most qualified to meet those expectations.
Welcome (back) to DeKalb, Mark. Now get to work.
Mark is a very welcomed addition to this city. What a great way to start the 2004 year. It was a big loss to this community when he left and now it is time to get this community back on track. It is unfortunate that the politics that is being played in the council chambers is getting in the way of the real needs of this community. The taxpayer needs to wake up and take their responsibility of voting more seriously. This community needs a drastic change in its government. We need people who want this community to be everything it can be.
I would be very interested to hear the tapes and I know that many citizens would be appalled to hear how government works behind closed doors. Many do know and that is why many of the good people who should run for an elected seat will not.
I'm glad to read somebody else has caught on to games being played by our astute city council members. You were too easy on Sparrow, though. He's just as guilty as Povlsen, Kapitan and Conboy. The big babies should grow up!
Your article is dead on. It's bad enough that partisan politics takes place in the state and national government. It's embarrassing that it takes place in DeKalb.
Great article! Povlsen is my alderman and I sure wish we could get him replaced. They've turned city council into a circus.
Mark Biernacki is just what DeKalb needs at this time. He is a leader, knows DeKalb from past service to the community and will lead us on. We need to call the aldermen and support the four who made the right decision and call the other three and tell them where to get off. They are there to serve the community - they are only doing a disservice. The least that they could do would be to support the majority and they should make the vote to bring Mark to DeKalb an unanimous one.
Members of the Sparrow Opposition Party are outraged! Absolutely outraged! I haven't heard so much outrage since Howard Dean's concession speech!
I have to seriously wonder if DeKalb's current police chief truly has his heart with the DeKalb force. With him putting his hat in the running for the City Manager's position with DeKalb, does he find the police chief's position too unbecoming? I believe that position needs to be reevaluated in DeKalb. How many other resumes has he sent out?