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March 2008 Archives

That's the gist of the story in today's Sun (Sun.3.30), according to the group of 204 residents called "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC. The group is suing the school board over the new site of the third high school at Eola/Molitor Rd. Here it is in a nutshell: Thirty-seven acres of the 87-acre site of the new school are owned by Midwest Generation which, until a year ago, operated a peaker power plant on 17 of those acres. The school board commissioned a consultants' report regarding environmental issues associated with the site, but those reports have been under wraps for the past three weeks. Now, the district is planning to go ahead and start construction in mid-April to ensure an August 2009 opening of the school. The district will seek IEPA approval on the site - a process that NSFOC attorney Shawn Collins says could take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. The district, meanwhile, will not build on the 37 Midwest Generation acres (that portion of the site was slated for tennis courts) but will start work on the remaining acres so that the school can be built simultaneous to the examination of the suspect acres by the IEPA.But that's not good enough for the

The Riverwalk, arguably the grand jewel of downtown Naperville, is under construction and has been for months. Granted, the whole Riverwalk isn't involved, just one section around the Dandelion Fountain. The problem though - as highlighted in a Sun story today (Sun., 3.30) - is that the construction is two months behind schedule. What should have been completed by June now won't be ready until at least August. That means we stand to lose almost the whole summer without a good chunk of our precious Riverwalk, not to mention how everyone is looking forward to the downtown amenity after the horrible winter we've had. The other disheartening piece of the puzzle is that due to a parking lot being dismantled during the construction, 25 or so precious parking spots have been lost. This will cause a hardship for local merchants and restaurateurs who will lose business over the lost parking. Is this a sacrifice worth enduring for the future betterment of the Riverwalk, or are you fed up with driving by that construction site that will be there through most of the summer?. The comment lines are open..

In a letter from his attorney, Shawn Collins, Councilman Dick Furstenau offered to settle his lawsuit against the city of Naperville and several of its officials. Furstenau is seeking an apology from the city to end the civil suit that came after his acquittal on battery charges against a Naperville police officer. He is also seeking an unspecified amount of money from the city that, presumably, will be negotiated. The latest round in this saga comes on the heels of Furstenau's fellow councilman, Grant Wehrli, publicly chastising Furstenau for the lawsuit. Wehrli claimed in a letter he read in Council chambers that the Furstenau lawsuit is responsible for the bulk of the city's largest municipal property tax rate increase in 17 years. Is this an olive branch that Furstenau is extending to the city? If so, should the city accept it, apologize, pay the money and move on? Or, should the city stand firm and let this play out in a Chicago courtroom? The comment lines are open.

In the spirit of lightening things up and with April 1 right around the corner, we here at The Sun would like to hear about your favorite April Fool's Day experiences. Did someone once put one over on you, or did you do the same to an unsuspecting friend, family member or co-worker. Well, we'd like to know about it. Depending on how many stories we get, we'll print a bunch of them in the Monday, April 1 edition of The Sun. Just try to keep them fairly short and not too complicated, because the more we get the better. It'll be a lot of fun and after all . . . everybody needs a good laugh now and then.

In a stinging - and very public - rebuke, Naperville city councilman Grant Wehrli pulled no punches in attacking one of his own, fellow councilman Dick Furstenau. In a letter read in an open meeting yesterday and published in The Sun and at napersun.com today (Thurs., 3.27), Wehrli takes Furstenau to task over his lawsuit againt the city and several of its employees. Wehrli says these are tough economic times - where the city is faced with declining revenues - and is faced with the onerous task of voting on the largest municipal property tax rate increase in 17 years. But the bulk of that tax rate increase, Wehrli says, is the direct responsibility of Furstenau because of the money needed to pay for the city's defense of his lawsuit which, at last count, was estimated to be in the $600,000 range. Is this how you want your tax dollars spent or is Dick Furstenau right for making a stand and suing the city?

The ground-breaking for District 204's third high school was originally slated for mid-April. In today's Sun (Tues., 3.25) the district's superintendent, Dr. Stephen Daeschner, is quoted: "... I think we need to be on land, moving dirt, by absolutely the middle of April. We'd like to be on it sooner. We've set things up. We've got contracts in preparation for that, but if we can't do that, then we really begin to run into a little trouble." With the middle of April just over two weeks away and the environmental studies on the Eola/Molitor Rd. site still unreleased, it looks like the ground-breaking now may not happen in mid-April. That means that the district, in Daeschner's words, has "run into a little trouble." The question is two-fold: When will the public see the environmental studies of the site and when will ground be broken? The comment lines are open.

P.S.: Don't forget to vote in our new poll up on the home page. It asks the same question that some bloggers have already posed: Does District 204 need a third high school? The answers are a simple yes or no.

In Friday's (3.21) Sun, editor/publisher Jim Lynch wrote a column about presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia about America's racial divide. In the column, Lynch opined that Obama was beginning a necessary conversation about race with all Americans, black and white. Is this conversation needed...will it transcend politics...will it help unite the country....will it help get him elected president? All questions that are yet to be answered. What do you make of Obama and his speech on race? If you didn't see the column, it's reprinted here in its entirety:

Yesterday, three members of the activist group "Neighborhood Schools For Our Children" (NSFOC) and their lawyer met with a Sun editor and reporter. In a wide-ranging interview in today's paper (Fri., 3.21) the group members cite a pattern of deception by the 204 school board leading up to the 2006 referendum. They contend the board got the referendum passed by specifically - and repeatedly - saying the third high school would be built on the Brach-Brodie land. They also expressed their concerns that the board had lowered its safety standards for the new high school since the Eola/Molitor site had been previously rejected for environmental reasons. They also questioned whether the sanctity of the whole democratic process had been violated by their own elected officials. The comment lines are now open.

In today's paper (Thurs., 3.20) The Sun speaks to D204 resident Todd Andrews, a member of "Neighborhood Schools for Our Children" or NSFOC, the group that is suing the school board of District 204 over the construction of the third high school at the Eola/Molitor Rd. site. Andrews denied that his group was trying to stall the school board, or using the lawsuit as a means of ensuring that the school would ultimately be built at Brach-Brodie so his and other plaintiffs' kids could go to Neuqua. In fact, Andrews told The Sun that the lawsuit "was not about Neuqua," but about the larger issue - that of holding the school board accountable for its questionable decision-making. What do you make of Andrews' position?

In the latest twist to the furor surrounding the site and planned construction of District 204's new high school, the district's superintendent, Dr. Stephen Daeschner, in an interview with The Sun (Wed., 3.19), expressed his frustration with - and condemned - the misinformation circulating about this critical issue. According to Daeschner, the planned site for the third high school at Eola and Molitor Rd. will save the district - and taxpayers - money over the first site, the Brach-Brodie land at 75th St. and Route 59. And, In the ongoing court proceedings with the Brach-Brodie trust, Daeschner went on to say he doesn't foresee any damages payable by the district to Brach-Brodie. Anyone have any comments on these revelations?

The hits just keep coming. In the latest wrinkle over the District 204 high school controversy, attorneys for the Brach-Brodie trust - owners of the original proposed site of the third high school - say they will seek upwards of $20 million in damages resulting from the condemnation lawsuit. They want the district to either buy the property at the jury-determined price of $31 million, or reimburse the trust for attorneys fees, the difference between what the land was worth in 2005 and now, and the already stipulated $2.5M in jury-determined damages. All told, that could result in $20M or more. A court hearing was scheduled on this matter today (Mon. 3.17) but was continued for 28 days after a request by the Brach-Brodie trust. With environmental concerns over the Eola/Molitor site, this new development which could cost millions and millions of dollars, and residents' rancor over the whole situation, what is the school board and District 204 to do? Ideas, anybody?

In today's Sun (Sun. 3.16) we outline and put the new site for the proposed third high school for District 204 in full context. In a detailed front-page graphic, using satellite imagery, we show the exact location of where the school stands to be located at Eola and Molitor Rd.The precise locations of the power lines, gas pipelines and the peaker plant are shown where they are in relation to where the high school will be. In our comprehensive coverage we also examine statements regarding the environmental concerns as put forth by the school board and the supporters of the lawsuit against the board. Not surprisingly - although the commissioned consultants' report is yet to be released - the environmental issues as addressed by these two parties stand in stark contrast to each other. Depending on who you believe, the environmental concerns are "minimal" and easily remedied, or, they present serious health hazards which call into question why this site would be used for a new high school at all. The comment lines are now open.

We've got an online poll up that states: "Do you agree with the lawsuit against the District 204 school board." The answers are a simple yes or no. The poll is admittedly unscientific, but it's interesting to note the trend over the last couple of days. When the poll first went up - around the beginning of the week - the votes mounted up quickly, siding with those who agree with the lawsuit. But that trend has reversed itself and, currently, it's 55% for the lawsuit and 44% against it. So have the pro-lawsuit people had their say and are the anti-lawsuit people mobilizing? Only time will tell. The poll will stay up on our home page until the end of next week. Again, it's unscientific but we've also seen how accurate the "scientific" polls have been thus far in the presidential race. Anyway, any thoughts on who will come out on top?

In Friday's (3.14) Sun we outlined the plight of two Naperville cab drivers who say they are getting the short end of the stick - and paying for it through the nose.They play by the rules, shelling out their hard-earned cash for the proper licensing and sticker fees. But they say they've suffered a significant lack of business - and income - due to unlicensed, unstickered cabs who compete for their business, primarily for customers during peak times at the train station. The Naperville guys say the fall-off in business and the increased competition is due to lack of enforcement by the city. You'd think in these challenging economic times we could at least take care of our own, in this case our own Naperville taxi drivers instead of letting their business go to out-of-town, unlicensed cabbies. Anyone have a thought on this?

Today's Sun (Thurs. 3.13) showcases a story outlining how the state is initiating a comprehensive data base to better monitor speeding violations to crack down on dangerous drivers. How bad is speeding in Naperville? That's what we'd like to know. Have you observed cars blowing through quiet subdivisions - where kids are often playing in the streets? What other infractions have you witnessed and do the cops need to do more to stem the problem? Just the other day one of our staffers was stunned to witness an impromptu drag race as he drove home on Plainfield/Naperville Road south of 75th Street.
How much of this really takes place on our city's streets? Tell us about the speeding incidents you've witnessed so we can get a better handle on the situation.

Welcome to Potluck's new look. We apologize that for most of the day we've been unable to access the forum to publish comments while technicians worked on the improvements. We're back now, and thanks for your patience.

A gallon of gas costs $3.43 around town today, and the price of oil is setting new records, hitting $110 a barrel. How are the high gas prices affecting you? Are you changing your driving habits because of them?

Okay - you wanted it you got it. Moderator Jim here to open this new thread for the home page. The old threads, as you know, are easily accessible, but here's another one due to popular request. However, I would like to make a point that Ted has repeatedly made and I have reiterated. We here at the Naperville Sun can do nothing to further this matter without having access to an ongoing investigation, documentation and cooperation from the Napergate Man. So, please let's try to refrain from blaming the messenger.

A noteworthy trial gets underway in DuPage County this week. It involves the first priest the state seeks to confine involuntarily and indefinitely under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act. What do you think of this law? Is this a necessary tool to protect people from violent sex offenders who are highly likely to hurt more people if they had their freedom? Or does this test our constitution, since offenders who have served their criminal sentences are kept against their will for simply posing a risk of committing another crime?

Thanks to inflation, Naperville School District 203 may decide to skip the collection of an additional $82 a year, on average, in property taxes that voters recently agreed to pay for facilities improvements.

The other shoe has dropped in the contentious debate over the location of the new high school for District 204. An activist group of parents called Neighborhood Schools for Our Children has sued the 204 School Board in DuPage County court. The suit, filed on behalf of the group by Naperville attorney Shawn Collins, calls for injunctive relief for violations of the Illinois and Federal Constitutions. Among the salient points in the 19-page lawsuit are: The board, after holding many meetings with 204 parents, had stipulated that the Brach-Brodie location and the resultant boundary configurations would be the site of the new school. The referendum, according to the suit, passed on the basis of this information after an initial referendum had been voted down. Secondly, the new site of the third school (Eola/Molitor) had previously been considered by the board and had been rejected due to environmental concerns. The suit seeks for the court to order the board to purchase the Brach-Brodie land for the construction of the new high school; cease in its attempts to buy the Eola/Molitor location; in the event a deal is not struck with Brach-Brodie, return all money collected in the 2006 referendum and enjoin it from collecting any future money from the taxpayers and, lastly, have the board pay attorney and court fees. It looks like the beginning of a nasty battle. The comment lines are now open.

Friday's Sun reports that Will County authorities are asking the federal government for funding to begin the long-awaited extension of 95th Street, east of Plainfield-Naperville Road, over the DuPage River, to Boughton Road in Bolingbrook. If the project is completed by 2011 as officials hope, will it have been worth the wait?

It looks like they're fed up and they're not going to take it anymore. Tonight (Tuesday, 3.4) parents in District 204 will meet at the White Eagle Country Club to discuss the merits of filing a lawsuit against the district regarding the new site of the planned third high school and the boundary changes that resulted. Invited to attend is prominent Naperville lawyer Shawn Collins who's no stranger to the news, having filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Naperville on behalf of Councilman Dick Furstenau. Collins is attending the meeting to answer questions, though he says he has not decided to represent the group or whether there is even a legal basis for the lawsuit. One thing is clear, however: Many residents of 204 are furious over the new boundaries and are taking their ire to the next level. They are mobilizing and calling for action - possibly legal - in the wake of the redistricting. Meanwhile, school board members point out that the actual referendum language was only for the money to build the new high school and that boundaries could change depending on the location. What can we make of all this?

On Wednesday members of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce head to Springfield. They're scheduled to meet with House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and others to talk about legislative priorities. What topics do you think ought to be on the agenda?

As jury selection gets underway for the corruption trial of political fundraiser Tony Rezko, people in Naperville are left to wonder what role will Edward Hospital play in the proceedings.

The Ballot Integrity Project has gotten some ink of late, with its tireless criticism of the DuPage Election Commission. Now state Republican Party officials are charging that the Ballot Integrity Project is nothing more than a front for left-wing Democratic organizations, when it had positioned itself as nonpartisan.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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