Monday, June 25, 2018 || By Igor Studenkov || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The Illinois state capitol in Springfield. | Wikipedia
During a June 11 special meeting, the Broadview Board of Trustees voted 3-2 to submit an application to join the advisory council for the Illinois Coalition of Local Governments — a relatively new lobbying organization that, according to its website, wants to “stand up for local governments who want Springfield out of their business.” Trustee Sherman Jones was absent.
Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson said that joining the organization would allow the village to exert more influence with state lawmakers and to be more aware of the changing legislative landscape. There will be no fee for being involved in the organization during the first year, village officials said.
“One thing I know for sure is there’s strength in numbers,” Thompson said at the June 11 meeting. “The legislators tend to hear from a group versus the individual [entities] like the village of Broadview […] Whether [the issues] pertain to the village of Broadview or not, they keep us in the know, so we know [when to reach out to] our to our representatives or how to reach out to senators, so they can be a voice for us.”
But Trustees John Ealey and Judy Brown-Marino, who both voted against the measure, expressed skepticism about the organization. They said that the coalition is headed by a former south suburban mayor who declined to run for reelection amid accusations of financial mismanagement. They also took issue with some of the organization’s policy stances.
Brown-Marino said that she was concerned because “one of the items that they’re lobbying for is reducing the [population] threshold for home rule from 25,000 to 5,000 [residents]. I know that’s something people of Broadview have spoken on three times on ballots and said ‘no’ to home rule. This is a runaround [over] what we want.”
Although the coalition’s website does not list any members of its leadership team or make reference to the item Brown-Marino mentioned, it does list a series of policy stances that it takes.
For instance, the coalition supports a bill that would allow a municipality, or anyone working for a municipality, to sue someone who files a Freedom of Information Act “in retaliation to a governing body’s or official’s actions.” Brown-Marino said that she was also concerned about the coalition’s support for this measure.
Broadview’s village attorney told board members that the village would not be required to participate in all of the coalition’s lobbying activities and doesn’t have to agree with all of the coalition’s stances.
Ealey said that he was also skeptical about the coalition as a viable organization.
“At this point, they’re looking for members and money,” he said. “They don’t have an office, they have a drop box, mailbox in downtown Chicago. It’s a nice address, but it’s just a mail box.”
State records show that the coalition’s address is listed as the 84th floor of the Willis Tower. The floor is home to Work Better Chicago, a co-working space that offers “private offices, virtual office services, and meeting rooms,” according to its website. Representatives with the coalition could not be contacted over the weekend to comment.
Trustee Verina Horne said that joining the coalition while it’s relatively new — and the village has an opportunity to shape its agenda — presents more upside than downside.
“It doesn’t cost us anything, it’s a very new organization, so there’s not a lot of information,” she said. “It’s hard to make a decision, because there’s not a lot of information unless you get involved and help influence the direction of the organization.”
Thompson argued that the coalition was no different from organizations such as the West Central Municipal Conference, of which Broadview is already a member.
“This is just another avenue that gives us a different type of conversation,” she said.
In addition to the coalition and West Central, the village has also tapped an individual to lobby on its behalf in Springfield.
Last year, the village hired Alfred Ronan, a former state representative and a top donor to the Broadview People’s Party — the ticket that Thompson, Horne, Jones and McGrier ran on in April 2017 — to represent the village’s interests in the General Assembly. VFP
For more local news, ‘Like’ our Facebook page